An example of Ladies Night Out vendor set ups,which due to current restrictions, would be very difficult. (Archived photo)

On Aug. 26, the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce held its first in person meeting since the initial shut down in March. There were several updates from the last few months to give, including plans for the future as well as Chamber plans.

“It’s been quite the ride this year,” said Kyle Jarvis, president of the Watertown Chamber. “We hope that our efforts have been worth it.”

The meeting itself was held outside due to COVID-19 restrictions, with masks being required as an extra precaution. One of the first updates discussed was a change in the Highway 25 project timeline. The project will be starting a little sooner in the spring of 2021, now planned to start in March instead of April. More details will be coming on exact timing as the project gets closer.

There were several more community updates as well. Firstly, the Educator’s Dinner is cancelled. According to Jarvis, the funds normally used to put the dinner on will still be used to support educators, but due to COVID-19 and the continued State of Emergency in Watertown the dinner itself was cancelled.

This wasn’t the only planned event to be cancelled. Ladies Night Out has also been cancelled. Due to the State of Emergency, the Watertown Community Center is closed to the public. Since several vendors for Ladies Night Out set up in the Community Center, they wouldn’t have a spot to go. This doesn’t even include the other vendors setting up around town and the hundreds of people visiting them. All in all, it was decided that the risks of having Ladies Night Out weren’t worth it, so the event has been cancelled.

Downtown Trick or Treat has also been cancelled for 2020, with essentially the same reasoning as Ladies Night Out.

“We see over 800 kids in two hours in all the businesses,” said Jarvis. “We decided that it wasn’t worth it.”

Those three events are so far the only confirmed events to be cancelled. The next possible event is the Tree Lighting Ceremony, set to take place on December 5, and updates will continue to come in.

Part of the reason the in-person meeting was necessary was due to the bylaws of the Chamber itself. With an uncertain future ahead, and the State of Emergency continuing, it was decided that the bylaws of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce needed to be adjusted. The reason being that come December, new officials for the chamber would have to be elected. However, there were no bylaws for remote voting; only in person. Given the state of things, adjusting these bylaws has to happen. And soon.

“It’s crucial that we meet for the proposed bylaws, so they can be adopted and we can move forward,” said Jarvis.

The next planned meeting is in September and will also take place outside, so Jarvis noted that members attending should prepare for being out in possibly colder weather. He also let members at the meeting know that if it rained, the September meeting would move to the following week.

Jarvis also reminded the Chamber members that the Carver County CDA and city of Watertown have plenty of grant and relief programs to sign up for. Watertown has three for local businesses while the CDA has the Small Business Emergency Assistance Program. Signing up for all of them is possible, and Jarvis encouraged everyone to sign up for as many as possible.

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