Jan 19, 2024

Message from our Chamber President

I hope everyone “Survived” the busy Holiday season, and beyond that, were able to flourish in your businesses and spend time with loved ones, friends, and families. Now that January is here, hopefully things are slowing down to a manageable pace, and you are finding time to get out and enjoy the beautiful snow.

Last month I shared with you a couple items from our new Strategic Plan. This month I want to share with you a little more about our Membership and Development Committees.

Our Membership Committee is chaired by Wes Black with assistance from Carl Brown. Our membership committee will focus on growing our Membership base and continuing to add value to membership in the Chamber. We want to make sure that we continue to attract new members, by way of Membership drives, word of mouth, meeting new business owners, etc. At the same time, focusing our attention on our current members and providing the services and benefits that are important to you. We know the most important thing we can do for our members is to listen to their needs, promote their businesses, provide training and support, and continue to enhance our business offering to our members. In 2024 we are happy to announce that we’ll begin hosting Member Socials again! These events will give us time to socialize, get to know our fellow Members better, collaborate on new ideas and strategies, and have fun as a business community. We will also feature special speakers at each event so that they are able to share their experiences and expertise. As we form these committees and launch our initiatives, please let us know what we can do to better serve you and to help your business thrive.

Our Development Committee will be chaired by Rachel Swigart with the assistance of the rest of our Board. This is a brand-new committee for the Chamber. Our goal with the Development committee will be to identify more sources of funding for The Chamber by applying for grants, developing relationships with other Non-Profit organizations, and identifying other potential donors and developing those relationships as well. These efforts may be local, working within our community government, businesses and residents, County, State or Federal levels. The main goal is to secure extra funding for future programs that will enhance our members, our town, our community, and visitors. These programs could include things like Education, Training, Transportation, Events and programs that will provide a needed service for our businesses while filling a need in our community. As mentioned, this is a brand-new area for us, and we would appreciate any help or help from our members.

This brings me to my last point. What does it mean to be an Engaged Member of The Chamber. There are many ways our members can get involved, through Sponsorships, Volunteering, offering help within your area of expertise, serving on a committee, and participating in meetings. In addition to our Membership and Development committees we also have our Finance committee and Events committee. We want and need our members to be involved. Whatever your passion or time commitment, we can find a place for you. Our vision is to “Ensure our Community Thrives” and by all of us working together, sharing ideas, skills, and expertise we can accomplish that mission. Working together we can create a vibrant business community that is working together to make sure our town and businesses are growing and continuing to be strong. So, if you are reading this letter and have an interest in joining one of our committees or volunteering, please reach out to us by filling out the application online at (Support – Red River Chamber of Commerce), emailing us at rrinfo@redriverchamber.org, or giving us a call at 575-754-2366, and let us know how you’d like to contribute. We will gladly put you to “work”!

- Brian Waltz


Chamber Matters: A note from youCEO

2023 was a year of significant change and progress for the Red River Chamber of Commerce. At this week’s Annual Membership Meeting I was honored to present our 2023 Annual Report, which included details on the significant strides we’ve made as we’ve transformed into an innovative, active and effective Member Services oriented organization. We were so pleased that so many of you made it out! If you were unable to join us, this article highlights some of the key achievements of the past year and outlines exciting plans for the future.

Connecting, Advocating, and Promoting

At the heart of the Chamber's new direction lies a commitment to providing valuable services to its members. This includes fostering connections, offering advocacy on important issues affecting businesses, and promoting member businesses through marketing and advertising.

2023 Accomplishments

Strong Governance: The Board of Directors focused on developing a solid organizational foundation by enacting new policies and investing in leadership development.

Enhanced Communication: The Chamber improved communication with members through regular emails, social media updates, and a revamped website.

Powerful Partnerships: Strong collaborations were established with local organizations like the Town of Red River, the Red River Rex Foundation, Red River Valley Charter School, and WESST to benefit members.

Successful Events: Legacy events like Vino in the Valley and Oktoberfest were strengthened, and Oktoberfest specifically saw record-breaking attendance and positive feedback.

New Branding: A rebranding effort led to the development of a new logo, brand guidelines, and a user-friendly website.

Looking Ahead

The Chamber's strategic plan for 2023-2024 outlines ambitious goals for the coming year, including:

  • Increasing and engaging membership: Focusing on member services and offering valuable training and networking opportunities.
  • Developing new funding sources: Identifying partnerships and grants to support Chamber initiatives.
  • Creating solutions to barriers: Addressing challenges faced by members, such as employee recruitment and retention, and workforce housing.
  • Collaboration is key: The Chamber recognizes the importance of partnering with other organizations and businesses to achieve its goals. By working together, they can create a thriving Red River where every business has the opportunity to succeed.

Get Involved

The Chamber invites all members and community stakeholders to participate in its journey. You can join the Chamber (Join – Red River Chamber of Commerce), serve on a committee (email rrinfo@redriverchamber.org), volunteer (Support – Red River Chamber of Commerce), or simply share your ideas (email or call us today!).

Together, let’s build a bright, thriving future for Red River.

- Naoma Staley



Business People of 2023

The Chamber is happy to offer another huge congratulations to our Businessman of the Year award recipient, Santiago Galván! Santiago co-owns Vine + Dine and wears many hats, working at both Vine + Dine and Steam Coffee, among other jobs. When he's not diligently handling his many responsibilities, Santiago enjoys spending time with his wife, Caitlin, a full-time mom and businesswoman, and their two beautiful daughters, Khaleesi and Khailuna. He also enjoys opportunities to go hiking, skiing, and fishing.

We extend our congratulations to our other award recipients who were not able to join us on Tuesday evening: Sara Hoag, Business Woman of the Year; Nick & Jenny Church, Business Couple of the Year; and Daniel Lamb and All Seasons Sports, Customer Service of the Year.




Partnering Powerfully

Creating Solutions: Workforce Housing and the Red River Chamber of Commerce

- Naoma Staley


Taking Initiative

Leaving Las Cruces for the Red River Chamber of Commerce felt like a dream come true. This job was everything I'd hoped for professionally, and yet my initial elation quickly came face-to-face with a harsh reality: a regional housing shortage. What I'd envisioned as a smooth transition turned into a scramble for a place to live. This wasn't just my story; it was the story of countless colleagues, teachers, and first responders, all struggling to find a place to call home in the community we serve.

Taking Initiative

Based on the interviews with membership, and my own experiences in Red River and the surrounding area, I took initiative in September 2021. I knew the Red River Chamber of Commerce could tackle the burgeoning workforce housing problem impacting our members. I contacted then-president David Wilcox, informing him, "I'm diving into how we can address this. It's hitting most businesses I talk to!"

By January 2022, Red River had established a Mayoral Advisory Board on Workforce Housing, and I worked with representatives from the Questa Economic Development Fund (QEDF), the Village of Questa, and Chevron to launch their workforce housing efforts. I proudly represented you, my members, in both efforts.

Red River Takes Action

Red River's Mayoral Advisory Committee, representing diverse voices like the Marshal's Office, the Red River Valley Charter School, and various businesses, delved into the challenges. We then conducted a 2022 public feedback survey of residents and employers, gaining valuable insights into our housing landscape. Our recommendations, driven by the survey results, addressed both immediate needs and long-term strategies:

Optimizing existing infrastructure: The committee identified ways to improve workforce housing within the Town's current resources.

Learning from model communities: Researching similar municipalities, we discovered that it is a common practice for municipalities to establish a dedicated department or position to manage workforce housing initiatives.

Developing a plan: Recognizing the value of proactive planning, many municipalities create a workforce housing plan to address current needs and anticipate future growth.

Leveraging available properties: The committee analyzed Town-owned properties, pinpointing potential sites for workforce housing development.

Prioritizing essential workers: The committee identified professions critical to the community's functioning, like emergency responders, educators, and full-time permanent employees, in our recommendations for housing access.

Upon reporting these, the Town issued an an RFP for experienced consultants to secure funding and design workforce housing options. After a thorough evaluation, the Town selected a qualified firm. This team will now engage with the community and develop diverse housing proposals, presenting an incredible opportunity to tackle Red River's housing crisis head-on!

Beyond Red River

The Chamber's commitment to finding solutions extended beyond Red River's borders, as does our workforce! I sought knowledge by interviewing housing experts, attending statewide summits on housing, and delving into workforce housing plans and reports. The discoveries were encouraging private citizen land sales to collaborative redevelopment projects by landowners, and beyond, the potential for diverse solutions is vast. Strong inter-community coalitions can bridge housing gaps and secure funding for projects, making them more competitive in the race for resources.

Collaborating with the Village of Questa, we acknowledged the importance of community engagement in determining their housing vision. Notably, many Red River-employed residents who live in Questa like me, currently reside in temporary accommodations like RVs. This situation not only impacts long-term Questa residents, but also presents challenges for those living in such arrangements, often due to financial limitations. This housing insecurity also creates a situation with severe limitations, excluding those who lack the resources to acquire and maintain an RV.

A Statewide Challenge of Epic Proportions

New Mexico's efforts to attract major corporations like Facebook and Netflix, though economically beneficial, have also significantly impacted the state's housing stock. The influx of skilled labor has driven demand sky-high, leaving us with a current deficit of 30,000 housing units before even considering future expansion. As the state creates more jobs, like the anticipated expansion at Los Alamos National Labs, this crisis will undoubtedly worsen.

Red River's housing woes predate this boom, with discussions dating back to the 70s. However, the impact is no longer local; the entire state now grapples with this formidable challenge.

Coalition: The Key to Progress

The Chamber of Commerce remains actively involved in regional conversations surrounding workforce housing. We are committed to engaging all communities that provide Red River with its workforce, understanding that collaboration is key to overcoming this collective obstacle. By working together, we can ensure our communities thrive, attracting and retaining the talent needed for a bright future.  As we move forward, embracing diverse solutions and prioritizing collective action, we can transform this crisis into an opportunity for shared prosperity and sustainable growth. Let's build a future where everyone, from first responders to educators and beyond, has access to secure and affordable housing in Red River and beyond.



Strong Financials, Thriving Community

Balanced Budget Highlights Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility

This month, the Red River Chamber of Commerce proudly presented a balanced budget proposal for the upcoming year. Developed by our dedicated Finance Committee, this plan ensures financial stability while maintaining resources for essential member services and exciting community initiatives. We extend our sincere gratitude to the Committee and all volunteers who contributed to its creation.

Employee Retention Tax Credit Program Boosts Chamber Operations & Events

We're thrilled to announce a significant financial boost thanks to Angela Black of Aspen Tax & Accounting. Her expertise secured the Chamber over $30,000 through the Employee Retention Tax Credit program, directly impacting our operations and event budget line items. This additional funding translates to even more valuable resources for our members and exceptional events in the upcoming year.

Streamlined Membership Structure Enhances Value and Recognition

At the recent Annual Meeting, we unveiled revised membership levels designed to better serve your needs. For increased consistency and fairness, full membership is now available to businesses with a single license or DBA. Multi-license businesses will qualify for "Commerce" membership, allowing promotion of up to five businesses under one membership fee. Additionally, we reward your loyalty with a renewal discount upon payment within 30 days of invoice receipt.

We are confident these financial updates position the Red River Chamber of Commerce for continued growth and success. We deeply appreciate your ongoing support and commitment to thriving alongside our vibrant community.



Community Column

Red River Rhythm: Finding My Volunteer Groove

Jerry W. Johnson, Volunteer & Red River Chamber Workforce Development Pilot Participant

When we landed our dream cabin in the Upper Valley in 2022, my wife and I were looking forward to becoming more than just tourists. With longer stretches in Red River, those "lazy afternoons" started feeling a little restless. That's when I stumbled on the perfect solution: volunteering! And specifically, volunteering with the Red River Chamber of Commerce.

It all began with the Chamber's annual Vino in the Valley. I signed up for a four-hour shift at the front gate, welcoming folks and collecting admission fees. More than a task, it was a chance to be the first friendly smile for visitors, setting the tone for their festival experience. Plus, the perks were good – full weekend event access, a complimentary souvenir glass or event shirt, and discounts on additional items purchased! I walked away feeling like I'd contributed, met some great folks, and even snagged a souvenir item or two from my time visiting with vendors at the event.

By October, as a part of the Chamber’s Workforce Development Pilot, I had obtained my Alcoholic Beverage Control Certificate, which expanded my service capabilities. Come Oktoberfest, I traded ticket-taking for a three-day adventure as security and guest services gopher. It was a whirlwind of festive crowds, lively music, and yes, still plenty of time to enjoy the fun myself.

The Real Rewards Run Deeper than Perks

If you're craving connection, like meeting and greeting people, want to enjoy a community cornerstone event, and maybe enjoy a bit of touristy fun, volunteering with the Chamber is the secret sauce. It's not just about handing out wristbands (although that can be surprisingly fun). It's about being part of the Red River heartbeat, a friendly face in the crowd, and a helping hand for the community that makes this place so special.

Oh, and did I mention the Chamber staff? Top-notch humans, I tell you. Working with them is a joy in itself. Plus, volunteering has become a magnet for new friendships. Familiar faces at events, shared stories around town – it's like having your own built-in Red River family.

So, if you're looking to tap into the rhythm of Red River, the Chamber office is your gateway (just across from the RR Brewery, you can't miss it!). Stop by, say hello, and sign up for your own Red River volunteer adventure. Trust me, the perks are just the first sip of an experience that is truly rewarding.




As a member, you can also use your Wild Apricot login to post and manage job vacancies on the Red River Jobs Board. Job announcements can be posted for 30, 60, or 90 days.

The job board is open to non-Chamber members, so if you get to the payment page and it is not $0.00, you forgot to log in. Job postings are free for Chamber members.

To access the RR Jobs Board, go to our website at www.RedRiverChamber.org and click on Work > RR Jobs. Alternatively, you can click here: https://redriverchamberofcommerce.mcjobboard.net/jobs

If you have trouble logging in, please email us at rrinfo@redriverchamber.org.



Volunteer Training Schedule

Apr 24 5:30 - 7:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working Security At An Event

May 22 5:30 - 7:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working A Gate At An Event

Jun 5 4:30 - 5:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working A Gate At An Event

Jun 5 5:30 - 7:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working Security At An Event

Aug 28 5:30 - 7:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working Security At An Event

Sep 25 5:30 - 7:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working A Gate At An Event

Oct 2 4:30 - 5:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working A Gate At An Event

Oct 2 5:30 - 7:00 P Volunteer Training: What You Need To Know About Working Security At An Event



Visitation Data

Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2023

Estimated annual visits: 1.3M

Average length of visits:  11.5 hours




Jan 22 4:00 - 5:30 P Vino in the Valley Planning Meeting

Jan 23 11:30 - 12:30 P Oktoberfest Planning Meeting

Jan 30 4:00 – 5:00 P Development Committee Meeting



Feb 12 4:00 - 5:30 P Vino in the Valley Planning Meeting

Feb 13 1:00 – 2:00 P Finance Committee Meeting

Feb 20 10:00 – 11:00 A Monthly Board of Directors Meeting

Feb 26 4:00 - 5:30 P Vino in the Valley Planning Meeting



Mar 4 4:00 - 5:30 P Vino in the Valley Planning Meeting

Mar 5 4:00 – 5:00 P Membership Committee Meeting

Mar 12 1:00 – 2:00 P Finance Committee Meeting

Mar 19 10:00 – 11:00 A Monthly Board of Directors Meeting: Board Nominating Committee

Mar 25 4:00 - 5:30 P Vino in the Valley Planning Meeting

Mar 27 6:00 - 8:00 P Local Employees: Winter Season Thanks



Apr Mondays 4:00 - 5:30 P Vino in the Valley Planning Meeting

Apr 2 6:00 - 8:00 P Member Social: Celebrating a Successful Winter Season

Apr 9 1:00 – 2:00 P Finance Committee Meeting

Apr 10 9:00 A – 2:00 P Member Training: Marketing - How to Identify and Attract Your Ideal Customers

Apr 16 10:00 – 11:00 A Monthly Board of Directors Meeting: Board Nominees Announced

Apr 24 5:30 - 7:00 P Volunteer Training - Event Security

Apr 30 4:00 – 5:00 P Development Committee Meeting



Upcoming Events

Vino in the Valley

July 4th Parade & Celebration


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