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Hays chamber in running for national recognition





The Hays Area Chamber of Commerce recently was recognized as a finalist for the National 2013 Chamber of the Year Award through the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.

"It's been a multi-stage process of applications, and now we're ready for the interview phase," said Tammy Wellbrock, HACC executive director. "This is the last step."

HACC is among three finalists in category one of the competition and faces chambers of commerce in Mayfield Graves County, Ky., and Norfolk, Neb. Categories are determined by factors such as population of service area, number of businesses and total annual revenue.

"When I read the email (notifying her of the chamber's finalist status), I was at the Chamber Institute Conference with other peers and I was struck speechless," Wellbrock said. "Just to apply made me realize what a great community I live in and to be able to see, in measured terms, how supportive of their chamber this community is and the pride they have in this community."

Winners of the competition will be announced during the ACCE national convention in Oklahoma City, Okla., during the week of July 23. As part of the selection process, Wellbrock said she will travel to the convention for interviews with the award selection committee.

Applicants for the award were asked to provide a variety of information, including overall budget, strategic plan, bank statements and tax forms. In addition, the organizations were to provide an overview of two of their programs. Wellbrock said she focused on Leadership Hays and the Stepping Out Campaign, a year-long effort of Wellbrock to physically visit each local chamber business.

Being recognized for the nomination, Wellbrock said, helps illustrate the value the chamber has for local members.

"It's not about a staff being the chamber," she said. "We're about a community coming together.

"That's what is different about this industry compared to other industries. The more involvement we have from the community, that's what makes a chamber healthy."