Happy New Year! On Wednesday, we gave the Chamber’s 2019 annual report during the first lunch program of the year. 2019 was a great year, full of changes and many successes. The Chamber successfully relocated its office to 24 S. Main St., hosted 81 ribbon cuttings and 37 business-building events, graduated its 26th Leadership Sheridan County class, hosted its fifth Ignite Conference and eighth Brewfest, distributed over 11,000 community maps, 250 relocation packets and 7,000 community guides, closed out the year with more than 700 member investors and a 91.25% member retention rate, advocated on several business-friendly issues at the local, state and national levels, and issued $123,123 in Chamber Bucks…not quite a record (last year was $125,865) but well over the $100,000 mark for the third year in a row. Thank you to all who took the time to attend the lunch.

While it’s so important to reflect on the past, it’s also exciting to embrace the year ahead and plan for the future. In 2020, the Chamber will continue to look at the needs of our members and the community and will maintain our focus on our mission to be a catalyst for business prosperity and a champion for a stronger community. We’ll continue offering many of our programs and events, as well as add new ones throughout the year. Two upcoming events are being rolled out this month.

The Chamber’s Ag & Natural Resources Committee will host a new monthly series, “Lunchtime Conversations about Open Spaces.” Representatives from area businesses and organizations will have an interactive exploration with attendees about balanced use of our open space and the importance of open spaces to our community’s economy and culture now and into the future.

These free sessions will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. at Luminous Brewhouse. The upcoming sessions include: The Role of Public Lands on Jan. 28, The Role of Private Working Lands on Feb. 25, Outdoor Recreation and Its Impacts on March 24 and Effects of Land Use Policies on April 28. You are welcome to bring your lunch, or food will be available for purchase.

Next, the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee will host “Eggs & Issues: Pre-Session Breakfast with our Legislative Delegation” on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Sheridan. Our legislators will discuss what they see as the most important issues facing us this upcoming session, followed by a question and answer session. Cost is $15 per person and reservations are strongly suggested.

Also coming up is Business After Hours on Jan. 15 at Bighorn Airways and our first Business Before Hours of the year on Feb. 5 at Sheridan College. We’ll recognize the nominees and announce the recipients of our 2019 Awards of Excellence at the Chamber Business Awards Lunch on Feb. 12.

I’m excited for this new year and these new programs and hope you’ll get the opportunity to engage with the Chamber in 2020. For more information about any of our programs, visit www.sheridanwyomingchamber.org.

Dixie Johnson is the CEO of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.