THREE OAKS — The 40th anniversary edition the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce Guide was unveiled “in a fun fresh outdoor way” outdoors behind Journeyman Distillery on May 11.

“I’m so excited to see everyone in person today,” said Chamber Board President Jen Thompson while welcoming those attending the Harbor Country Guide Pick Up Picnic. “A lot of you I haven’t seen in over a year, and I know I probably speak for a lot of people here when I way that I’m so, so excited for this summer (and fall) coming up. Hopefully things are going to open up a little bit more and I’m going to get to see a lot more of everyone.”

Thompson announced that Kimberly Wendt has been promoted to “our new executive director of the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce.”

“In her new role Kimberly will lead the Chamber’s activities to advocate for the business community and held drive smart, successful growth in our area,” Thompson said, adding that the Chamber Board of Directors “have no doubt her penchant for creative thinking, her deep knowledge of the area, and her passion for the Chamber and its membership will make her an incredibly strong leader both for the organization and for the community as a whole.”

“I am honored and grateful to lead the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce,” Wendt said. “After working for five years with all of you businesses, organizations and the communities, Harbor Country and the region, I appreciate the passion and determination to truly meet the Chamber’s mission, which is to make Harbor Country the premier place to play, work, create and make home.”

Wendt said she has been amazed by the creativity of the organization’s members that have summoned the grit to face the difficulties of the past year.

“This is a very special year, we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce,” she said. “This is an epic year for us to re-open during our 40th anniversary and to go through this reorganization of staff is amazing.”

Chamber Board Vice President Maggie Martin recognized Emily Hojara for being “a wonderful asset to the Chamber this past year.”

“She really was ahead of the curve with social media before COVID hit. Because of her skill set she was able to continue our online presence and actually grew our following and engagement.”

Martin noted that Hojara also became a new mom over the least year.

She said a new Digital Marketing Manager position has been created for Hojara “so she’s able to stay home with her baby and … do all of the amazing work for you guys safely and remotely.”

Wendt said candidates for the position of office manager have been interviewed and she expects a new person to start soon.

She thanked the “very talented group of people” who were involved in creating the 2021 Harbor Country Guide including the “small but mighty Guide Committee” of Tim Rogers and Shelby Sexton of Fusion Design Group, Chuck Garasic, Emily Hojara, Lindsay Navama, and Kristen Sheldon, adding that writer Holly Shulman “captured our long-time members so eloquently in the special 40th-anniversary member spotlights at the beginning of each section.”

Wendt noted that the Guide Committee, which never met in person, set out to make this year’s edition “memorable and collectible.”

“I believe they did a fantastic job.”

Wendt also introduced Chamber Board of Directors members including Thompson and Martin, Treasurer John Quackenbush, Secretary John Natsis, and Directors Kurt Hausemann, David McNabb, Erica Milovich, and Eric Neagu.

Boxes filled with 2021 Harbor Country Guides were handed out during the May 11 Pick Up Picnic. It is the official guide for the 8 communities of Harbor Country® and neighboring region, providing information for visitors and residents. The resource also serves as a member directory of the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce. Copies are distributed to area businesses and information booths.

Wendt said the May 11 Harbor Country Guide Pick Up Picnic was the organization’s first in-person celebration in over a year.

“It is quite fitting that we celebrate our 40th year first at the Harbor Country Guide Picnic. I also want to thank Journeyman Distillery for enabling us to plan this in a safe way,” she said.

Wendt said the return of Harbor Country Mixers is planned to begin Sept. 16 at the New Buffalo Railroad Museum.

“This is where the Harbor Country Chamber was actually housed for many years before it was at the offices on Warren Woods Road at Three Oaks Road,” she said. “There also are plans to have meet-ups for members at different businesses during the summer so that we are all to support businesses.”

She said the Annual Dinner in October will officially mark the 40th anniversary, with a focus on accomplishments and founders.

For more information on the Chamber, go to https://www.harborcountry.org (soon to include an Economic Dashboard and a Harbor Country Outdoors digital platform) or call (269) 469-5409.

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