AZTEC — After nearly disbanding, this city's Chamber of Commerce is proposing changes to its bylaws and constitution to move the chamber into the future.
"Without a doubt, it's important that we promote the local businesses as much as possible," said Kris Summers, a member of the chamber's Board of Directors.
In early April, the chamber announced some changes they'd like to see to their bylaws they believe will encourage participation from the chamber's approximately 80 members. Moreover, the changes would help to increase efficiency in the board and spread duties of the chamber of commerce among board members and chamber members.
Through the last several years, the chamber has been struggling to engage members and at one point last year, the few members still engaged contemplated it's possible demise. The board has started practicing some of the proposed changes.
"Probably in the last 10 to 15 years, the chamber has been a cyclical process as far as the board getting some enthusiasm generated," said Vice President Bob Liscombe.
As a result, seven new board members were appointed to serve terms that end in June and since then, the new board members have been looking at changes and have recently received nearly a dozen new memberships.
One of the proposed changes reduces the number of board members from as many as 15 to seven, and decreases their terms from three to two years.
"We are trying to revitalize (the chamber) and get the local businesses involved," Liscombe said, noting that current bylaws may have discouraged participation.
Other proposed changes include board members chairing different committees with the goal of involving local businesses.
"We formed committees," Summers said. "We didn't have committees. Instead of having a few people do everything, each committee is led by a board member."
The committees cover topics such as membership, networking, marketing and other activities that help promote Aztec-based businesses.
"It's our job to get committee members," she added.
Another proposed change would eliminate the requirement for an executive director. That position could then be tailored based on the chamber's needs.
Liscombe said that in the past, many of the chamber duties would fall on the shoulders of the director who was paid a part-time salary, but often worked full-time hours.
"Some of the directors got overworked," he noted.
The changes have created more engagement, board members have said, even if they haven't been formally adopted. Formal adoption requires a two-thirds majority vote after the changes have been presented to the membership for a 60 day comment period.
Liscombe said the newly appointed board sees its role as temporary, and Summers agrees.
"There are a lot of people that have a lot of good ideas but we're trying not to change too much until we get a permanent board. Our first goal is to sustain it (the chamber)," she said.
She added that members seem to like the changes implemented so far.
"It's going pretty well," she said.
A person who plans to run for election to the board at the end of June, Vangie Neil, said she wants the chamber to focus on bringing more appreciation Aztec's unique position in the Four Corners
"I don't think people are seeing (Aztec). They're not really opening their eyes wide. We're a hub," said Vangie Neil, a resident who plans to run for the board.
She said Aztec has many travelers and that the city could build upon that to increase business traffic. The proposed changes would help with that, she added.
"They're all traveling through Aztec," Neil said, "we are smack dab in the middle of their route."Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638. and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.