State of the chamber

As president of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, I would like to provide you with a 2013 year-end review and highlight some of the benefits that you can expect from your chamber as a business member or member of the community.

The chamber currently boasts more than 300 business members, ranging from sole proprietors to large institutions with many employees. Over the past year, the chamber has focused on defining its services to provide the most benefit to our members. Our modest annual dues enable access to a number of core business services including educational and professional development; networking opportunities; member information distribution, publicity and exposure; business referrals; local advocacy; and advertising and marketing opportunities through our world-class website,, and the Saranac Lake Visitors’ Guide. We owe thanks to our dedicated partners who work with us providing tourism destination management, county and statewide advocacy, group health insurance, energy savings programs and marketing initiatives for our Adirondack Regional Airport. The chamber also provides its members with participatory business services including member-to-member discounts, reduced rate event insurance, calls for volunteers and ribbon cuttings. We encourage you to get involved with the local business economy.

Katy Van Anden, our very capable executive director, brings a high level of professionalism, energy and creativity to the chamber and has been doing an outstanding job leading the organization.

As a team, the board of directors and executive director have worked hard to reposition the chamber onto sound financial ground. We have positive cash flow, no long-term debt and a healthy cash reserve. Currently we receive very little funding from local municipalities and primarily rely on membership dues, events and fundraising activities to generate revenue.

A major focus of the SLACC over the past year has been to form and nurture strong working relationships with our strategic partners. The chamber was instrumental in bringing together funding partners for the tourism destination management contract with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. In May of 2013, the chamber hosted a networking evening to engage our partners and lay the groundwork for future collaboration. We subsequently forged partnerships with ROOST, the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Malone Chamber of Commerce, North Country Chamber of Commerce, Franklin County, the village of Saranac Lake, town of Harrietstown and town of North Elba.

Our board of directors recently toured the Adirondack Regional Airport and Saranac Lake Business Park. The chamber, with the help of Harrietstown officials, is working to form a new Airport Committee and Business Park Committee consisting of Harrietstown board members, chamber board members and local community members to help move these two important economic engines forward. We will continue our efforts with Harrietstown as we coordinate regional advertising for Cape Air and the North Country Airport Alliance, and will soon be generating an ongoing airport newsletter. Our staff continues to work with the town of North Elba and ROOST at the Saranac Lake Visitor Center to deliver excellent customer service to the area visitors. Our member businesses benefit greatly from the referrals generated from the Visitor Center and SLACC office.

The chamber boasts a full calendar of events including several new ones added to the chamber repertoire within the last year, including the Daffest 5K Zoom in Bloom, Chefs and Farmers: Taste of the Adirondacks, an expanded Sparkle Village Craft Show, “Pink Chair Your Friends” and a special Winter Carnival concert. Throughout the year we have seen increased attendance of both locals and visitors at all chamber events. The chamber also functions as a clearinghouse for other event coordinators seeking additional promotional support via email blasts and event calendar listings. Every year the chamber assists with Winter Carnival visitor telephone and walk-in inquires. Our monthly Business After Hours and education seminars enable our members to learn and form relationships with other businesses and local officials. We continue to host a large Holiday Mixer and Annual Dinner, giving us all an opportunity to celebrate business while enjoying old friends and acquaintances.

Our Saranac Lake Visitors’ Guide contains relevant articles and information in an eye-catching format. Our distribution of 20,000 copies of the guide helps local businesses to advertise to a diverse audience.

The Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce has been working hard for its membership. We are proud of our area businesses and will continue to strive to serve them well.

Tim Hesseltine lives in Saranac Lake, owns Upstate Auto in Saranac Lake and is president of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.