On Jan. 23, more than 200 members of the Marion and Hillsboro Chambers of Commerce met at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church for the first annual joint chamber banquet.
The Chambers have been meeting together for about six months to figure out how to pool the thoughts, talents and resources of both communities to not only make the area a better place to live, work and play but to also bring in business and tourism.
The Chambers are also working on ideas to promote the existing businesses in both communities. The first joint event by the Chambers was a hospitality tent in Marion at the Marion/Hillsboro football game in October. Each Chamber donated a decorative school rock that was raffled off and the proceeds were given to each high schools booster club. Hot apple cider was given out at the tent which went over well since it was a cool night.
Back to the annual banquet. Each city brought items for a silent auction and a basket that was auctioned off at the end of the evening. Both auctions went very well.
After a delicious dinner catered by a local Hillsboro business, Ron Wilson from the Huck Boyd Institute of Rural Development at Kansas State University spoke to the crowd. Mr. Wilson started his talk by commending both cities for putting forth the effort to have a joint meeting. He added that by working together the mutual benefits will strengthen both communities. He discussed amazing people he has met and worked with around Kansas in business, agriculture, technology and tourism.
The banquet was a tremendous success. Both cities were able to network with each other and I have heard from members in both cities and received positive comments from everyone. The Marion Chamber would like to thank the Hillsboro Chamber for being gracious hosts and welcoming us to their community. This will definitely be a hard act for us to follow next year.
Don Noller, President
Marion Chamber of Commerce