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Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce: Helping Businesses and Communities Thrive

By Elisha Neubauer

The Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce has a mission: "Creating and enhancing an economic climate, where area businesses and the community thrive." Serving the Upper Valley's five historic villages of Hartford - Quechee, White River Junction, Hartford, West Hartford, Wilder - the Chamber works for the benefit of its combined 10,200 residents.

Each village has its own character and charm. With many families living in the center of town, the walking community of Hartford sits on both banks of the White River and offers fishing, swimming and boating. It has the only dog park in the Upper Valley, as well as numerous historic structures. Nearby West Hartford is the most rural of all the villages within the Chamber. Also located along the White River, this village has a multitude of watersports to get your feet wet.

West Hartford Bridge

Settled in the 1760s as a mill community that thrived for over 200 years producing items such as fabrics, cider, lumber and glass, the village of Quechee began its decline in the 1950s when its labor pool went south to work and mills closed. Quechee Village was revitalized in the late 1960s by the building of the Quechee Lakes Resort, which continues to draw people year-round.

Quechee Dam, Quechee Gorge State Park

Quechee Gorge, called "Vermont's Little Grand Canyon," and Quechee Gorge State Park beckon hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. "The Quechee Gorge is one of the most breathtaking views in Vermont," says P.J. Skehan, Executive Director of the Chamber. "It's always a beautiful place to visit and hike the trails, and is really stunning in the fall. The gorge is 165-feet deep and about a mile in length and attracts visitors from all over the globe."

White River Junction underwent an economic change of its own after a decline in the 1960s. The river village has made a comeback from its early days as an railway hub to a present-day center for theater, education, restaurants, museums, music, events, and excursion trains. Again showing how Upper Valley communities have risen from the ashes, Wilder went from the site of a huge International Paper Company plant to an enticing residential area that contains a hydroelectric dam along the Connecticut River; several newly built, technologically savvy commercial parks; as well as a public transportation company and a community college.

White River Junction Church

As a big supporter of small business, the Chamber helps local companies become part of the community. "The state is not densely populated, and so most businesses that start up here become entwined in the community where they are located," says Skehan. "Vermonters are by nature big supporters of all things local and there is a large localvore movement that inspires their communities to support the local economy. The thought is that if all business transactions are within a community then the dollars spent will be beneficial to all within that community."

Aside from helping its communities, the Chamber also benefits individual local member businesses. They feature networking events, provide discounts for heating oil and propane, and have a wide range of other benefits for member businesses and their employees.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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