Chamber of Commerce: Keeping Wilton vibrant, attractive
About 20 people gathered inside Trackside Teen Center for the League of Women Voters’ annual meeting on Tuesday, June 16, where Wilton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Janeen Leppert talked about the chamber’s work in “keeping Wilton a vibrant and attractive community.”
The chamber was founded in 1989 by a group of community-oriented business people seeking to build Wilton’s business climate based on commercial and civic interests, said Leppert.
Today, with more than 350 members, the chamber continues to carry out its mission through a number of ways, including economic development and business relations, programs and events, publications and encouraging local shopping.
Development and relations
Because the chamber is not affiliated with the town, said Leppert, its resources are “somewhat limited.”
Still, she said, the chamber works “very hard to create opportunities” for Wilton’s local businesses.
“The physical appeal of our town, the high quality of life we live here and the skill of our workforce are just a few of the reasons why people move to Wilton and why they ultimately stay,” said Leppert.
“Our role is to provide and promote and expand on the great resources that we do have here.”
Throughout the year, Leppert said, the chamber works closely with many local organizations, including Wilton Library, the YMCA, Wilton Historical Society, Wilton Go Green, Wilton Kiwanis and the town.
Another way the chamber carries out its mission, said Leppert, is through business relations.
Through membership events and community development, said Leppert, the chamber is able to “create a sense of collaboration with the community and give people an easy way to participate in something bigger than their individual prospective businesses by providing a unified voice, mutual interests and opportunities.”
Programs and events
Two “very successful” programs offered by the chamber, said Leppert, are the Wilton Gift Certificate Program and the Member-to-Member Discount Program.
Twenty years ago, the chamber created the Wilton Gift Certificate, which is redeemable at any chamber member business and available for purchase at the Village Market, the Y, Fairfield County Bank and at the chamber office.
“It’s a great, great program that we’ve been able to establish. Believe it or not, since its inception, over $500,000 worth of gift certificates have been sold,” said Leppert, “and that’s money that stays right here in town, so that’s one of our proudest accomplishments.”
The chamber offers a Member-to-Member Discount to its members, which entitles them to discounts at a “couple dozen local retailers and restaurants,” said Leppert.
Leppert said the chamber has worked “really hard over the past four to five years” to create a number of signature events, programs and educational seminars that give members an opportunity to spread their brands, build valuable business relationships and learn about what’s going on in the area.
Popular events include the Taste of Wilton, the farmers’ market, Holiday Stroll, Pumpkin Parade, trick-or-treating events, and Wilton Restaurant Week, which happens twice a year.
The chamber’s annual Wilton Street Fair and Sidewalk Sale comes up next, in July.
The chamber provides its members with marketing and advertising opportunities throughout the year, including a community guide that highlights businesses, civic organizations and other local opportunities that is delivered to every household in town.
“We also publish a quarterly newsletter in The Wilton Bulletin,” she said, “along with a weekly e-newsletter that features chamber member news and events, business life, member tips throughout the year and business profiles.”
Leppert said there is “something special about living and working in a town like Wilton that draws you to shop local,” which is something the chamber strongly encourages.
“Shopping in Wilton keeps this community vibrant, so we always ask that when you do have a purchase to make or want to got out to eat, that you go to Wilton retailers and restaurants and service providers.”
To learn more about the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, visit wiltonchamber.com.