Koellmer eyes continued robust growth for Chamber
To Peg Koellmer, the new president of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, the organization's fundamental principle is support for local businesses. "This is our home, our town, and our businesses depend on the goodwill of our community," said Ms. Koellmer, who was recently installed as the Chamber's new president. "It is incumbent upon us to support local businesses, especially now, during the holiday season when it's time to shop local."
For example, Ms. Koellmer said, "everyone wanted a hardware store in town, and now we have one, Wilton True Value Hardware, so let's support them."
Ms. Koellmer, who is owner and broker of Realty Seven at 250 Danbury Road, joined the Chamber when she bought the business in 2008, and has served on the Chamber's board for the past four years. She succeeds outgoing Chamber President Ralph Slater.
As the Chamber's new president, she said she hopes to "expand our reach" to include more businesses along Route 7. "We need to get everyone involved," she said.
The Chamber hopes to work toward this goal with the town's new economic development commission.
A new Chamber event is planned for next year that also aims to promote this aim, while simultaneously "energizing our core," which is mostly based in town center, she said.
Continuing the theme of expansion, Ms. Koellmer said she hopes events such as the Taste of Wilton "will grow even more next year." The Taste of Wilton outgrew its previous venue at Cannon Grange and took place at Trackside Teen Center this past summer because so many more vendors participated, she said.
The Chamber's Street Fair in July and the Scarecrow Festival in October were also "very successful," according to Ms. Koellmer.
The Chamber also sponsors a Golf Outing in May, a 5K Road Race in Georgetown in June, Sidewalk Sales in July, an Annual Dinner and a 5K Road Race in October.
All this adds up to a "vibrant Chamber," which recently added five new members and now includes more than 350 businesses and businesspeople, she said.
Ms. Koellmer is a familiar face among volunteer organizations in town, with a long service record that began 30 years ago, when she and her husband, Rick, first moved to town with their three children, Laura, Douglas and Steven.
She was a PTA board member, a Girl Scout and Brownie Scout leader, president of Trackside Teen Center, and chair of the Wilton Commission on Social Services. In this capacity, she initiated the "Stuff the Bus" campaign to stock the food pantry shelves, organized the Wilton Warm-Up Fund, planned Senior Community Day, participated in home visits to senior citizens, and helped supervise the renovation of the Wilton Senior Center.
Ms. Koellmer also helped reorganize the Wilton Interfaith Council and has served on the boards of the Wilton Bank, the Wilton Kiwanis Club and the historical society's nominating committee. She started her company's Realty Seven Charitable Fund, which supports more than a dozen local nonprofits and supported the renovation of the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
"I try to live my belief that to whom much is given, much is expected," she said.
For her accomplishments and service, Ms. Koellmer was named a 2012 Distinguished Citizen Award winner by the Wilton Family Y.
So what are the benefits of joining the Chamber?
"The Chamber offers various networking opportunities with such events as the monthly business after hours," she said. "It also provides seminars and educational programs such as the annual 'Eggs and the Economy.'"
"There are also member-to-member discounts and business referrals," Ms. Koellmer said.
Members may also participate in health and dental plans at "very affordable rates," Ms. Koellmer said.
The newsletter and website highlight a business of the month, and Ms. Koellmer said communication is important among members.
"For example, if you are offering new services, tell us and we will publicize them," she said.
The Chamber will present a Holiday Stroll with Santa at the Gazebo on Friday, Dec. 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.