Friday, May 31, 2013

Chamber Honors Tango Café

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize Tango Café as May’s Business of the Month. Judy Colegrove bought Tango Café three and a half years ago from long time friend and former boss, Barney Ballard. Judy found her passion for the food industry at the young age of 16, working for the Ballard’s at the Beach House, and today her passion thrives as Tango Café provides delicious food for their patrons and many community organizations.

Watch them accept their award, click here>>

Tango Café opened 5 years ago and is known for their fresh, all natural, tasty dishes, as well as their friendly staff. If you’ve attended a Chamber Luncheon or any event catered at the Panhandle State Bank Building, you can attest to their delightful fare. They’re open Monday-Friday from 7AM-5PM and serve breakfast, lunch, dinners to go with daily specials, homemade soups, specialty coffees, teas and smoothies. They are also open to catering of all kinds.

Not only are they a model for every restaurant on their customer service and quality of products level, their community support shines brightly as well. Every year, Tango Café provides meals at cost to numerous organizations including Community Cancer Services with their annual Wine Dinner, Bonner General Hospital’s Heart Ball, Jaycee’s Race, and the Casa Breakfast, just to name a few.

When asked what Tango’s secret to success was, Judy claimed, “my passion for cooking, fantastic staff, specialized location, hard work and positive attitude.” 

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Tango Cafe for their success and thanking them for their commitment to our community. For more information, visit them in The Panhandle State Bank building, 414 Church Street, visit their website at or call them at (208) 263-9514. Like them on Facebook.

In photo: Judy Colegrove receives the award from Chamber Board Member Ken Wood.

Chamber Honors Jim Payne

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce honored Jim Payne as May’s Volunteer of the Month for his service to our community and many of our non-profit organizations. Jim has been a teacher/professor/researcher at many higher education institutions, including Yale, John Hopkins and Wesleyan, and voluntarism and volunteer groups has been one of his top areas of research and writing interest for the longest time.

Watch Jim accept his award, click here>>
Jim’s presence in Sandpoint area organizations is large. In 2001, he founded and published the ‘Directory of Voluntary Organizations in Sandpoint Area’ which shined a great light on the number of non-profit and volunteer organizations in our area, totaling well over 100. You can still view the online working directory at

He is currently President of the Sandpoint Teen Center which he has been a board member of since 2008, founded the Sandpoint Educational Opportunity scholarships in 1999 which he is still the director of, board member of the Sandpoint Committee on Television Awareness, a tenor of the North Idaho Chorale/Pend Oreille Chorale and member of the First Lutheran Church Choir. Other organizations Jim has been involved in includes the Unicorn Theatre Players, Friends of the Shelter and Habitat for Humanity.

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Jim Payne for being honored as the Volunteer of the Month and thanking him for all of his contributions to our community. Jim’s hard work has done a lot for many organizations in our community. From the Greater Sandpoint Chamber, as well as the whole community, Thank You!

Photo: Jim Payne accepts his award with Chamber Board Member Justin Dick. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Preparing for Summer Visitors

Part 2
By Kate McAlister

Summer started early for us this year; let’s hope it stays until October.  With the beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing it’s easy to see why visitors make this a destination.  After they meet us, it’s easy to understand why they come back year after year. The combination of scenic beauty and our friendly, thoughtful community is exactly what travelers are seeking; an authentic, fun experience.

Last month we talked about the demographics of our visitors; where they come from, how they heard about us and what are they looking for when it comes to using their precious vacation time.  So how do they spend the most money when they get here?

When I asked Melody Circo, Chamber Visitor Center expert, where visitors spent the most money, without hesitation she said, “Visitors who come to Sandpoint for a few hours or a couple of weeks will most definitely spend money on dining, shopping and entertainment.”

According to the State of Idaho and the commissioned Longwoods report, when it comes to spending, more than half of every visitor dollar is spent on “food, shopping and entertainment”. They could have saved money and asked Melody because she was right on the dot with her answer. In 2008 total spending in the state from overnight visits equaled 1.8 billion dollars, yes ‘billion’.  Overall visitor expenditures included $502 million for lodging, $412 million for food and beverage, $333 million for retail, $298 million for transportation and $218 million for recreations/sight-seeing and entertainment. 

Domestic and international travelers to Idaho spent $3.5 billion and generated $499.7 million to federal, state and local governments, dollars helping fund jobs and public programs such as police, firefighters, teachers, road projects and convention centers.

• The 26,000 jobs created by travelers to Idaho represent 4.0 percent of the state’s total non-farm employment.
• Without these jobs generated by domestic and international travel, Idaho’s unemployment rate of 4.9 percent would have been 8.3 percent of the labor force.
• For every $1 million spent in Idaho by domestic and international travelers, 7 jobs are created.  1 in every 8 jobs is tourism related.

 Idaho’s tourism industry has been growing faster than the national average and since 2003, has grown by 22.9%, contributing over $3 billion to Idaho’s economy. 

The Idaho Travel Council, a division of the Idaho Department of Commerce Tourism Division, awarded almost $3.2 million in grant dollars in August 2012 to 28 organizations to assist them in promoting their regions. The grant funds come from the bed tax and total lodging tax receipts are dispersed as follows:
  • 10% to administration of the tax
  • 45% to fund travel promotion statewide
  • 45% to the region from which it came as travel and convention promotion grants
The Idaho Travel Council (ITC) is made up of eight individuals appointed by the Governor for three year terms, representing the seven regions of Idaho plus one member-at-large.  This group determines the rules and regulations around state tourism and also determines the grant awards.

For us, the grant writing process starts in late February with our Tourism Sandpoint Council – Visit Sandpoint, as we discuss our marketing strategy for the coming year. All grant funds have to be spent out of the area to encourage travelers to visit our communities. Our ads appear in publications such as: Outdoors NW, The Swerve (in Calgary), the Inlander (Spokane), Horizon/Alaska Air, NW Travel and others.  All ads list upcoming events in the area to lure visitors to town.  We are also responsible for our award winning visitor guide; we won best in state in 2010 and 2011.  This year, 2013, we won best website in the state for

Our Chamber Tourism Council is made up of 15 members representing; lodging – 5, Retail – 3, Activities – 3, Public Relations and media – 3, and a BID representative.  This group is a closed council and businesses have to be a member of Visit Sandpoint to be eligible to be on the council.  This council is democratically run and majority rules. 

The first round of the grant is submitted on April 25th each year and presented in the first week of May at the State recreation and tourism conference.  Final submission is the first Monday in June.  We find out what our award is the first week in August.  The Chamber receives 10% of the grant for grant administration, as you may guess there is a terrific amount of paperwork and time spent throughout the year to comply with State regulations.  Last year we requested $231,000 and were awarded $111,137.  For 2014 we are asking for $267,700.

We all do a tremendous regarding tourism and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all the hard work that goes on all summer.  Visitors add to our economic vitality substantially and help raise the tide for those who work on the frontlines whether serving food or being at the front counters in retail. If we can raise their standard of living, we all benefit.

That’s tourism in a nutshell for our area.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here at the Chamber. We will be talking about the visitor experience at the June 13 General Membership Luncheon.  Our very own Melody Circo will be there to tell what visitors experience when they arrive at our door.

Here’s to a great visitor season. Remember, it’s about Succeeding Together! See you around town!

Preparing for Summer Visitors

Part 1
By Kate McAlister

It is hard to believe Lost in the 50’s is three weeks away. In addition to being a fabulous event, it’s the economic ‘boost’ we look forward to in the shoulder season, and we are thankful.  Thank you Carolyn and crew for all you do and all the visitors you bring to town year after year.

As we prepare for Lost in the 50’s and other visitors this summer I wanted to give you a brief overview of tourism in our area in my April and May articles.

How do visitors decide to vacation in our area? The number one reason for overnight visitation was our recreational opportunities with the lake and camping.  Those of us who live here love it and we talk about it to all our friends, relatives and anyone who will listen and we are so good at painting the picture of what a paradise we live in, people are compelled to visit.  This along with the advertising we do outside of the area to entice visitors helps create economic vitality for those businesses who rely on tourism. Once visitors are here they want to stay, or definitely come back.  When they go home and tell others about us we get even more people wanting to come and see what we are all about.  We have a reputation for being a very friendly and welcoming town. I’ve heard comments from visitors about how nice it is to come to a town where people still have manners. Our biggest selling point, after the natural beauty, is our people.  We are fabulous people.

According to the state commissioned Longwoods study in 2008, we have a snapshot of what the Idaho visitor represents and what they like to do. Demographically speaking visitors to Idaho in general are more likely to come from the Mountain and Pacific regions of the United States. In our area, especially over the last several years, we are seeing a lot of visitors from drought ridden states. Our abundance of water is very compelling.  In a recent poll done by Rand McNally when asked ‘what states would you visit for adventure’?  Idaho was listed as the number two state for adventure right after Utah.  Other statistics from the state study; more visitors are female; 74% are couples; 58% do not have children; 81% have gone to college and 40% are retired.  For our area the statistics are comparable to the overall state. In addition, we also have a larger share of Gen Xer’s and Millennial visitors due to our variety of outdoor activities from the mountains to the lakes. Families love our area as well since we always offer a great family experience.

Some of the other key findings from the state:
       Market share: Overall travel to Idaho grew 3.9%, higher than the national average of 2.9%. The biggest gains were in leisure travel and day trips.
       Party size: While data showed some slippage in Idaho’s average travel party size (2.74 in 2000-2002 to 2.59 in 2003-2005), it still rates slightly higher than both the U.S. (2.43) and competitive western states (2.53) average party size.
       Spending: Travel spending in Idaho is growing faster than in the U.S. and competitive states.
       Motivations: Visiting friends and families, enjoying a getaway weekend, or attending special events.

Our visitors come from everywhere with the highest concentration being from other parts of Idaho, Washington, Texas, California, Oregon and internationally, our friends to the North in Canada. Here at the Visitors Center we have seen a rise in those visitors coming from Texas.

Next month we’ll talk about the spending habits of our visitors, jobs created and the process for the state grant Visit Sandpoint applies for each year to promote tourism in our area. 

See you around town!  Remember your manners, we have visitors coming!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Chamber welcomes Tyler Tennison as new Marketing Communications Intern

On May 20, 2013 the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce was pleased to announce Tyler Tennison, as the Marketing Communications Intern for the 2013 Summer season. The University of Idaho Senior is studying Advertising with an emphasis on Tourism and Leisure Enterprises. Tyler is a North Idaho local who graduated from Timberlake Senior High School (Spirit Lake, ID) in 2010. He spends a fair amount of time in Sandpoint throughout the year, and represented University of Idaho students from Idaho Legislative District 1 at the Capitol this past January during the university’s Legislative Breakfast.

As the Marketing Communications Intern Tyler will be responsible for working with the Communications Specialist to produce the Chamber’s regular communications and marketing efforts. When Tyler is not at the chamber he is either working at Trinity at City Beach, or spending time with friends on the lake. Tyler is very eager to work with the Chamber this summer and gain practical experience before he graduates with his degree in May of 2014.

‘This is a great opportunity for me, and I hope to learn much more about the Sandpoint area and bring my educational experience from U of I to practical use,’ said Tyler. ‘I’m really looking forward to meeting the business owners, residents, and visitors of the Sandpoint area!’

For more information about the Chamber, call them at 263-2161, email or visit them at 1202 N Fifth Ave. Wish Tyler a wonderful summer and internship by emailing him at
Photo: Tyler Tennison

Monday, May 13, 2013

Service Animals and Your Business

It has come to our attention that many businesses are unaware of the laws and regulations when it comes to service animals and their owners. We are here to help! 

Service animals come in all shapes and sizes. One myth you my believe is they all wear the vests like the dogs in the picture to the left. However, not all service animals wear their vests and by law they are not required to do so. Paperwork or certifications are also not legally required to grant them access into your place of business. 

Defining Service Animals: Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Please click here for more information>>

There are two things which you, a business, may ask when a service animals wishes to enter your place of business. First, you may ask if the dog or service animal is required because of a disability. Secondly, you may ask what work or task the service animal is trained to perform. The latter is a question that can vary quite a lot in answers. In today's world, service animals are used for a variety of things. You may not ask that the dog demonstrate the ability to perform the task, as well as, 

Please, click here to view the most commonly asked questions about service animals in places of business >>

It is illegal, as well has unethical, to misrepresent or fraudulently call your animals a Service Animal or Assistance Dog. 

If you have any questions about service animal requirements of the ADA, you may call the US Department of Justice's Information Line at (800) 514-0301.