Chamber event united Cordova businesses, artisans and makers

From Left, Cathy Renfeldt, Seawan Gehlbach, Dotty Widmann, Shulammite Reece, Karen Deaton Perry, Shelby Stoltzfus-Avis, Seth Balint and Annie Carlson gather for a Cordova Chmaber of Commerce ocean-based business mixer at Hartney Bay on Saturday, May 28, 2022.

The Cordova Chamber of Commerce hosted an event at Hartney Bay on Saturday, May 28, open to all ocean-based businesses.

Cathy Renfeldt, the executive directive of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, admits “it’s a really broad term” and most businesses in Cordova fall under that category. However, the Chamber wants opportunities for businesses to collaborate with one another, so the inclusive category serves a purpose.

There was a photographer to take pictures of products and attendees had time to discuss their businesses and show their work with one another. The Chamber received a grant from the Alaska Community Fund to help develop “blue economy” initiatives.

Participants included: the Netloft, Drifters Fish, Royal Ocean Kelp Company, Wild Delta Seafoods, Simpson Bay Oysters, Calidris Charters, Kayak Café, Native Conservancy, Native Village of Eyak, PWSSC, Liberty’s Alaskan Seafood, Cordova Outdoors, Noble Ocean Farms, Cordova Disc Golf Club, KseaOtter, Seashore beading studio, Metal in the Mountains studio and It’s Cordova.

Metal in the Mountains owner Stoltzfus-Avis called the event “a really neat idea” and she hopes that it grows in the future.

Reece, an artist who started It’s Cordova, said “Saturday was very helpful. It definitely forced me out of my comfort zone. It was my first time going to a business event like that and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was able to meet other small business owners and that was inspiring.”

“I went there in hopes to make one wholesale order and that was a success!” Reece added. “I am making a wholesale deal with the Netloft for my bookmarks that are one of a kind and are original artworks.”

The Chamber aims to support all local businesses in Cordova, but by becoming a member, more services are available and business owners benefit from more specified attention and advertising. A group the chamber would love to work with is direct market fishermen, aiding them in identifying ideal clients, new markets and helping with other aspects of their business needs.

Another benefit of becoming a member of the Chamber is healthcare coverage offered; Chamber members can be eligible for a non-traditional health care plan.

“The Chamber Choice Healthcare program is a creative and proven insurance alternative that provides a customized, comprehensive, and affordable option for healthcare,” the Chamber website states. “The program includes multiple components that offer options for preventative care, prescription drugs, telemedicine, and cost-sharing for larger, unforeseen medical expenses. Chamber member businesses now have the flexibility to customize their healthcare offerings while providing an affordable solution.”

Renfeldt wants the Chamber to aid in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, in addition to having them support and help each other be successful.

“All of us started with an idea and were brave enough to at least try to see what could happen if we started a business,” says Reece.