Chamber Director's Blog

"The Season" has started!

An early morning shower has just now ceased here at the Chamber office in the Historic Ironwood Depot--the first rain after several glorious days of SUN.  The Ironwood Area Historical Society volunteer guides are back in action at the Depot, where they staff it Monday through Friday from noon to 4:00 p.m. and on Saturday mornings.  Already traveling folks from MN, lower MI, WI, IL, MT, and other spots have stopped in for maps, local Chamber member information, and to tour the museum.  A new History guide this year is Ed Lakner, retired IHS teacher, who has a fount of local knowledge!  Stop in and say hi to Ed on Wednesdays!    Email notice just came in this morning that the U.P. Cruising Motorcycle Guide for the entire U.P. is now in press and distribution to our office will be very soon.  The Ironwood Chamber of Commerce did a 1/2 page ad in this year's edition, highlighting 6 "don't miss" Ironwood attractions.  Thousands of bikers criss-cross the U.P. every summer, and this guide, with its excellent maps (arranged East to West) is a wonderful travel helpmate (even for non-bikers!).   One of our Ironwood attractions (since 1964) has been the Hiawatha statue.  This past week I applied (yes, I did it myself with some computer help from Al and Tabetha) for a project grant from the Michigan Arts and Cultural Affairs office.  Of course, I don't know if we will get a grant award from them, but I did apply.  Currently, Hiawatha has about $14K in his restoration account, but the bid for complete repair and restoration came in at $24K--so any and all help to get to that number is needed (gofundme.com/Hiawatha2016)!   Lastly, for those of you who follow this blog, late June/early July will see the overhaul of this website homepage.  It is hoped that new features, new layout, and direct streaming links to our Facebook page (now with 1,190 friends!) will help improve our outreach and make for easier knowledge transmission.   Chamber member Al Estola, (Al's Computers) will be implementing the technical adjustments with content/visuals input ideas from our Board of Directors and members.   More than ever before it seems that travelers utilize that phone in their pocket for information and travel tips.  Have a more friendly and attractive homepage will allow us to better serve these folks.  Within about a week I should have the 2017 Festival Ironwood Calendar of Events up.  At the committee meeting last week, it looks like all the pieces are just about in place for an outstanding 25th Anniversary Festival Ironwood (July 19-22) at Depot Park, Downtown Ironwood.

The Forces Awaken!

Although seasonal in temperature (i.e., chilly) the sun is out ths Monday (5/8/17) and all around the Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce world there are signs of action and adventure ahead!  (Disneyish, but true).   This week will see the first Ironwood/Wakefield joint Chamber Business Box Lunch at noon (Wakefield Municipal Building) with a presentation by Chris Whitburn on "Google Advertising for Small Businesses."  Tonight (Monday the 8th), the Festival Ironwood organizing committee will meet at  the Ironwood American Legion (basement of the Memorial Building) at 7:00--all are welcome to attend as we work to finalize this year's calendar of events.   Have an interest in Ironwood History?  You can help "dust off" that interest by stopping over to the Depot tomorrow (Tuesday the 9th) at 10:00 for the yearly Historical Society Work Bee where Ironwood History will in fact be dusted off and made ready for the new season of museum visitors.  Better yet, consider joining the Society--only $15 membership and all the artifacts you can dust!   Chamber member renewals were sent out last Friday for those whose memberships were due for renewal.   The office looks forward to their return!   Also--new members over the past two weeks include:  Bale Watch and Clock (newly relocated to Lake Street--Grand Reopening on Saturday, 20 May, at 10:00 am); Black River Valley Pub (on Black River Road), and Zak's Realty (downtown Ironwood).   Ironwood Carnegie Library (Chamber member) is having their Spring Book Sale, Saturday, 13 May at the Memorial Building Auditorium--stop in and pick up some new summer deck-chair reading!   Lastly--The Ironwood City Wide Rummage Sale is set for Saturday, 3 June.  As of today, I have not one returned registration form.   You can download them from this website (events--city wide rummage sale).   DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION is Friday, 26 May.   Much going on all over town--flowers are up, yards are getting raked, and renewal is in the air!

Community Business: Working Together

Welcome to St. Patrick's Day, 17 March 2017.   Welcome also a new Ironwood enterprise, the Cold Iron Brewing Company, located at 104 North Lowell (right south of the Historic Ironwood Depot).   Occupying a wonderful old building originally constructed by the U.S. Forest Service as the local office, CIB has been many years in the planning and making.  Created out of a partnership of local businesspersons, CIB represents the very best of "shop local" and "build local" initiatives.  No franchise operation, no Wall Street encumbrances, just a locally created entity producing a locally created product in a locally redesigned and rebuilt space.   TODAY is the Grand Opening!!  Come down at 4:00 pm to celebrate the years of planning, investment, and physcial reconstruction of this building as it begins its new life as a center for refreshment and a large open-space gathering room for meetings, weddings, parties, post-trail hike hydration, and all-around neato spot.  Looking forward to seeing the entire town there tonight!   Best wishes to all the partners, and THANK YOU for investing in the Ironwood Community.

Inspiring Livelihood

When did you first decide to follow the career you now pursue?  Was it that first time of taking something apart and putting it back together?  First time doing art work that others praised?   First school trip to the local firehouse?   Being in the doctor's office and actually looking around at all the different types of activity there?   On Thursday, 23 February, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, 8th and 11th grade students from all the Gogebic County schools (and Hurley, WI) will arrive at Gogebic Community College for a combination Career Exploration Day and College Preview Day.  Over 45 area businesses, illustrating careers from motor mechanics, plumbing, nursing, public safety, and technology to writing/photography and forestry, will meet one-on-one with 8th and 11th grade students.   Organized by the Ironwood Chamber of Commerce, Gogebic Community College, and MichiganWORKS, this event partners with all county school districts in offering a very comprehensive look at the variety of careers that can be embarked upon right here in Ironwood and the Gogebic Range.  Many of these means of earning a livelihood do not require a four-year university degree, and in some cases, not even a two-year degree.   Additionally, the range of careers being showcased also represent area economic needs that need filliing in the days ahead.   Starting your own business, developing your own trade expertise, and entering into a business transitional relationship with an enterprise whose principals are looking to retire--these represent actual Gogebic Range economic opportunities that presently exist, and hopefully will be taken advantage of by some of the youngsters who will be attending.   The Ironwood Chamber of Commerce especially thanks all the individual contributions given by area businesses to help make this event a success, from individual student gifts and prizes, to monetary and in-kind donations to assist with the full range of activities involved.   The Chamber would especially like to thank all those area residents who purchased Jack Frost Raffle tickets this year, as the proceeds of that sale are playing a big part in defraying the food costs involved in this event.  BIG thank-you's as well to the GCC staff who crafted the scheduling, arranged the volunteers, prepared all the space arrangements, and offered direct leadership on the event day.  And lastly, a big thank-you to Brian Haanpaa, MichiganWORKS, who contacted and scheduled all of the participating businesses.   

Going Forward

The first month of 2017 is almost over, meaning that 1/12 of 2017 is almost done!  For most of us, January is a time of taking stock of the year past and making plans for what is yet to unfold.  To that end, the Ironwood and Bessemer Chambers of Commerce held their joint annual awards dinner on 18 January at the Bessemer VFW hall.  Over 80 Chamber members and guests attended, with Jerry Wuorenmaa of the Western U.P. Planning and Development region giving the evening presentation.  Bessemer gave out the following awards:  Dustin Filippini-Rising Star; Gogebic Range Master Gardeners-Organization of the Year; Bessemer-Stempiar BP--Business of the Year; and Grace Maki--Volunteer of the Year.  Ironwood gave the following awards:  Peter Sturgul--Volunteer of the Year; Lindquist Electric--Business of the Year;  DOVE Inc.--Organization of the Year;  Gus Swanson Education/Community Award--WatchD.O.G.S.    In just a few short weeks, the Ironwood Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with Michigan WORKS and Gogebic Community College will be hosting a Carrer Exploration and College Preview day for high school students grades 8 and 11.   The Ironwood Chamber of Commerce is making this year of 2017 one in which much greater cooperation between businesses and schools can be developed.  Awakening in the minds of the young all the many ways of earning a successfuly livelihood here in the U.P. is crucial to not only replacing retiring folks, but fostering innovative development and the opening of brand new enterprises.