New leader of the Crookston Chamber is trying to be a high-profile resource for local businesses.
First off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your family, education, background/previous stops, career, etc.?
My husband Rob and I have one child, Brooke, 20 and our four-legged child Miss Portland who is a miniature Golden Doodle. Rob has worked at the Northwest Outreach Center at UMC for over 30 years. Brooke (20) is a student athlete at Northland College in TRF. I grew up in the small town of Nielsville MN just south of us on Hwy 75. I’ve held many roles through the years which range from working at Polk County Social Services, Opticare, RSVP and running a non-profit for victim services. Most recently I owned a “paint and sip” business, Gallery On The Go With Terri.
What made you want to apply for the Chamber director position?
Having my own business I really learned the importance of partnerships. When businesses work together it can be a “win-win” situation all the way around. I really stepped out of my comfort zone and reached out to area businesses to partner with me to hold painting events at their establishment. I’ve never been in a position where I needed to market a business in that fashion. If I wasn’t out making connections, I wasn’t making money. Having the experience of running a non-profit agency where fundraising and volunteers were imperative to keeping doors open taught me how important support from the community really is. Coordinating volunteer services while working at RSVP showed me the benefits of having volunteers help with services, the caring people we do have in our community who give of their time so freely, and the benefits they receive from volunteering. The big desire for this role came when multiple people encouraged me to apply. I sat down and made a list of the skill set I could bring to this role and community and I haven’t looked back. I believe my prior jobs were leading me to this one.
What do you hope to accomplish as the director in the first year?
With many jobs the first year is dedicated to learning the day to day activities and responsibilities. Always a priority is gaining new memberships and membership retention. Another top priority for me is to get out and connect with our members and businesses. Now is a time to gain valuable insight which can help “craft” the direction of the Chamber. I’ve made numerous connections already and very much appreciate the honest feedback. I would also like to see the new venture started at the Chamber for seniors contributing as volunteers take off and flourish.
How about the next two or three years?
I would like to see the number of Chamber memberships at the highest level we’ve seen yet. This is a goal which can be reached with joint efforts from myself, staff, the Chamber Board and our Chamber members. Word of mouth is a big part of marketing to gain and retain members so I would like to see the Chamber be part of many positive conversations. All of us in the Chamber office could benefit greatly with updated computers and computer programs. We would love to expand our website for our members but presently that is not in our budget. Perhaps that will mean applying for some grants in the future.
For fun, if money was no issue, what would you like to see Crookston get as far as amenities?
How I wish someone would open a doggie daycare. That is more of a personal request as we still have a hard time leaving our dog in the morning. If that included an indoor walking track for dogs especially with our long winters that would definitely be a place I would utilize. Gym space is an issue especially in the summer time. I know when Brooke was looking for a spot to practice basketball during the summer it was next to impossible to use an indoor court.
Also for fun, what is your favorite food?
Grilled T-bone, medium rare
As leader of the Chamber, with this day in age with technology, how important do you think it is to get out and talk to business owners face-to-face? Is your current “Terri on the Town Tours” an indication that you think it’s pretty important?
It is critical. I’ve learned very quickly how important and appreciated a hand shake and visit is between the Chamber and our members. The Terri On the Town Tour gives me an opportunity to learn about the businesses I serve as the Chamber director. Being invited to go behind the scenes and learn how a business operates and the great people who make it run is an important learning experience for me. It is also an awesome marketing tool for the business I visit. All of the tours are posted on our Chamber Facebook page and the Times has done a great job of sharing where these stops are taking place. My hope is to continue this as long as I am here at the Chamber.
A question that many businesses ask when they're thinking of becoming a Chamber member is, "What will I get out of my membership?" As the new Chamber director, what would you tell these businesses?
We discuss the different membership packages available and which one will best suit their needs. Packages are also based on the size of the business. An important question to ask is, “what are you hoping to get out of your membership with the Chamber”. I really want individuals to understand not only are we forming a partnership, their membership is also supporting our community and other businesses. When I make my drop in and scheduled visits with businesses I remind them to share information about what is going on or coming up and we will help get the word out. Just recently a business called our office to schedule a “brainstorming” meeting just to help come up with some ideas to increase foot traffic. It all comes back to that word “partnership” in my eyes. When you become a member we form a partnership. That partnership may look different from one business to another so it is important to have those conversations and identify how we can work together. Our door is open to anyone who wants to discuss memberships whether new or old.
With the Chamber stepping away from being the host of events in recent years, would you like to see the city hire someone (even part-time) as an events coordinator to bring more to town?
I’ve recently done some research on events coordinator positions. I can’t seem to locate one that was hired and employed by a city anywhere remotely close to our area. What has proven successful time and time again is when a group of people are passionate about something they put effort in, build a group who share the same vision and make it happen. The Chamber and CVB have been a support to many great events which are held in the Crookston area.
You’re a basketball mom. What’s it been like over the years to watch your daughter play and develop? She and her Northland team made the national tournament this year; that had to be pretty amazing.
Our favorite pastime is watching Brooke play ball. When she decided to take a break from playing we worried she would never go back on the court again. When she told us she wasn’t ready to give up on the sport she loved we were ecstatic. She is quite talented and has a very high basketball IQ so watching her put those strengths to work is thrilling for us as parents. Brooke has played at the National level through AAU and most recently with her Northland team and coaches. It is always an honor just to make it that far. We are already eager for the 2018/19 season to start.
Do you possess any quirky or unique talents, skills or habits that people outside of your inner circle are most likely unaware of? Care to share any?
Nope! (Terri included a smiley-face, winking emoji with this answer)
Describe where you think/hope you'll be in 10 years, or what you think/hope you'll be doing, personal life-wise and career-wise.
Rob and I are both pretty active people so I don’t see us slowing down too much in ten years. By then Rob will have put in over 40 years at the University and I would be in my 10th year at the Chamber. I would hope retirement follows shortly after however. Dare I say, Brooke would be married and I am spoiling grandchildren as much as I can.
Please describe yourself in ten words or less…
A 50 something, quick witted, hit the ground running woman
Note: Times Assistant Editor Jess Bengtson contributed some of the questions for Heggie’s profile.