Savvy business owners and concerned citizens brainstormed ideas last week to re-vitalize the Pershing County Chamber of Commerce in support of the local business community. The newly-elected board of directors considered potential downtown events, community renovations and online promotions that could increase commerce in Lovelock.

Newly-elected board members include incoming Chairman Lee Ann Gallagher, owner of Nanny Joe's Antiques and Vice Chairman Grant Moulton, owner of the Lovelock Pharmacy. Other long-time Lovelock business owners complete the nine-member board including Jim Hamilton, owner of Jim's Tires, Diane Irvin, owner of C Punch Inn/Casino, Vijay Ratti, owner of Lovelock Food Mart/Shell Station, Bonnie Skoglie, owner of Lazy K RV Park & Campground and Steve Young, owner of Chevron Gas Station.

Incumbent Melissa McIntee, Nevada State Bank branch manager, continues as treasurer/secretary and incumbent Carol Jarvis, owner of the Country Cottage Salon, agreed to serve another term on the board.

Non-voting "ambassadors" include Wendy Nelsen of the Frontier Community Coalition, Frankie Graham, human resources general manager for Coeur Rochester, Inc. and Heidi Lusby-Angvick, executive director of the Pershing County Economic Diversification Authority.

Commissioner Carol Shank represented the county and Lovelock Mayor Mike Giles is the city's designated spokesperson although he did not appear at last week's board of directors meeting.

Gallagher suggested the chamber be a more visible participant in Lovelock events such as the upcoming Frontier Days Parade. She volunteered her vintage VW Beetle and Hamilton offered to drive it with his dog as co-pilot and a possible sign to read "Your Chamber - Working Like a Dog for You."

A new Lovelock Facebook page drew kudos from Gallagher and other board members. Created by Wendy Nelsen, the page highlights businesses, community events, history and news.

"I'm trying to bring pride back into the city," Nelsen said. "Eventually, it could be merged with a chamber page. I tried to get jump on that for you guys to get things going in a good direction."

Nelsen suggested the chamber's website could also be upgraded and monitored to include an online community calendar, interactive newsletter, promotions and ongoing blogs by chamber members.

Others suggested new events like sidewalk craft fairs and art walks in the downtown core would benefit stores and increase "heads in beds" tourist revenues. A one-time 2009 downtown event called "Main Street Mania" included a live band and was great for local business, according to Jarvis. Last year's "Harvest Festival" drew a crowd to the Lovelock Depot and generated positive community feedback.

Engraved bricks sold by the chamber may become permanent landscape elements like walkways and planters outside the Lovelock Depot Visitor Center. Graham announced Coeur Rochester, Inc. may cover the cost of steel signs produced by Pershing County high school shop students. The welded signs could permanently replace a temporary, weather-beaten banner that now hangs outside the Depot.

A committee appointed by the board will consider a plan to share the Lovelock Depot with the Frontier Community Coalition, a youth advocacy organization. The city-owned visitor center is currently staffed on weekdays by Chamber of Commerce Manager Beth Reid. According to Nelsen, the FCC could assist with rent and utilities, assist chamber staff with grant writing and online promotions and could provide the additional staffing needed to expand visitor center hours and tourist information.

Another committee will consider revised job duties for Reid, who currently prepares meeting agendas, handles expenses and, on weekdays, greets visitors and provides information on county and city attractions and options for local shopping, dining and lodging.

Although it is supported by the local city and county, Shank believes the chamber could be missing out on other sources of government support. She announced the county recreation board has received a $15,000 state tourism grant to fund promotional videos and mass marketing for Pershing County.

According to Reid, however, the chamber of commerce is not eligible for tourism grants. The agency relies instead on annual dues from more than 100 chamber members plus local funding awarded by the Pershing County Recreation Board. Sales of decorative locks, engraved bricks, post cards, souvenirs and memorabilia to tourists and local residents also support the chamber.

The chamber sells but derives no income from promotional gift certificates known as "Lovelock Loot" good for purchases only in participating businesses. The certificates are later redeemed in full by the chamber of commerce at no cost to business owners.

Last week, board members considered a fee of two or three percent for Lovelock Loot to cover the chamber's printing costs but no action was taken and the plan was tabled until the next chamber meeting. Board members are seeking feedback on this and other proposals from chamber members.

The next board of directors meeting will be on Aug. 21 at 7:30 a. m. inside the Lovelock Depot.