PARIS – The Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce has made its way into the black, and Executive Director Kelsey Jewell intends to keep it there.

Jewell said the chamber’s board of directors recently approved a budget for the 2008 fiscal year, which begins in January.

The amount of the budget was not disclosed.

“We can expect to be very financially stable and viable, assuming we don’t have debt to address at that point,” Jewell said.

Jewell, who started work as director in April at the age of 23, said the chamber got out of debt this fall.

The amount owed was not disclosed.

She said the capital campaign will focus on the keeping the chamber out of debt for the remainder of the year, and into 2008, if necessary.

The campaign’s slogan is “Together, we will create a chamber of commerce ready to assist the businesses of Oxford Hills into a more prosperous future.”

The fundraising goal was not disclosed.

As part of the campaign, Jewell offered to go without her weekly paycheck at a meeting earlier this month.

In response, board members made donations to ensure that Jewell would receive her paycheck, and C.N. Brown Co. donated $1,346 to the campaign. The chamber also sent a letter to members asking for donations.

“Contributions from the past two weeks have continued to come in, and we really appreciate that as well,” Jewell said.

Again, the amount contributed was not disclosed.

Jewell credited the chamber’s rise from debt to decreasing expenses, increased revenue from an annual golf tournament, and support of members. The decreased expenses include lower overhead costs, salaries, and cell phone costs, as well as cost-saving measures such as coupling promotions in mailings.

“Probably the salary line is where the most dramatic savings has occurred,” Jewell said.

In 2008, the chamber plans to schedule revenue-generating events to coincide with expense periods to allow for easier payment of expenses; hold new revenue-generating events such as casino nights; and couple chamber breakfasts with events.

The chamber also plans to expand marketing opportunities outside the Oxford Hills, increase legislature advocacy efforts on matters related to the region, improve the organization’s Web site, and start a buy local campaign.

The chamber has about 400 members and serves 11 towns.


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