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Perham Chamber evolving out of events into marketing

In the past few years, several changes have come to the Perham Chamber of Commerce.

Where 10 years ago, the chamber may have focused more on running and organizing community events, lately it has moved more into marketing the city to out-of-town visitors, letting local groups pick up the reigns.

An example of this change, chamber Executive Director Dan Schroeder said, can be said in the way that this year's Turtle Fest was run. In the past the chamber or the city may have run the summer festival, this year it was run by the Perham Lions Festival Committee (PLFC).

The PLFC has also taken over organization of the 2011 Parade of Lights in November, Schroeder said.

Even though it may not be directly running events such as Turtle Fest or the Parade of Lights, Schroeder pointed out that the chamber still serves on event committees helping to provide input. In the end, though, it's that group's event, not the chamber's.

The chamber does still run three events - Turtle Races in the summertime, the Chamber Golf Scramble, and the trade show (which will be going through several new changes this year, Schroeder said).

Brian Tusow, chamber president, said that he views the chamber as a "marketing engine, a marketing entity."

"We're shifting our energies more from events to marketing," he added. "We're spending money outside of the community to bring people in."

During the evolution of the Perham Chamber, Tusow pointed to new marketing technologies that they have been able to utilize to make sure that their money is being spent efficiently.

"We use a lot of measurable metrics," he said. "We've seen our web traffic grow significantly."

Schroeder said that it has been encouraging to see local community groups put on their own events. An example of this, he said, was the Brewers Fest this spring.

"These groups get things going, and then we help to market it," he said.

Moving forward, the chamber will continue to look at new ways to market Perham throughout the state.

"As we evolve, we're not going to do something just because that's how it's been done," Tusow said. "We're doing the best we can to bring in tourists all year round."