ALBION — Kay Craig, executive director at the Arc Noble County Foundations, looked out over the crowd of business leaders gathered for the annual Albion Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting on ThursdayApril 28 and started pointing out connections.

There were Kerry and Jocelyn Clouse, owners of Country Roads Coffee in Green Township. The Arc sells the Clouse’s coffee brands Thursday at the Community Learning Center in Kendallville.

There was Lori Gagen, of the Noble County Economic Development Corp., who operates her own web design business — Catchy Creations LLC. Gagen designed the Arc’s website.

And there was Amy Leedy, the owner of The Fox Den coffee shop in Albion. Several Arc employees are regular customers at the Fox Den.

“That’s what’s really neat about Albion,” Craig said. “The connections are always happening.”

Those kinds of connections are what the chamber of commerce is all about, according to president Chris Magnuson.

“We are here for you,” Magnuson said. “We are businesses supporting businesses.”

Thursday’s event drew approximately 50 people to the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Albion. The evening included a meal provided by the church’s Rosary Soldality as well as the election of chamber board members.

Board members will be Magnuson, Craig, Sandy Petrie, Carla Fiandt, Pattie Gatman, Dr. Ken Cripe, Mariah Keirn, Sharon Leitch and Steve Hook.

The event also included a chance for businesses to announce new happenings at their place of work. And there was some catching up to do — COVID had cancelled the annual meeting in 2020 and 2021.

Magnuson got the ball rolling by talking about the chamber itself, encouraging participation.

“Everybody takes a piece of the pie,” Magnuson said. “Nobody’s overwhelmed.”

One of the big happenings for the chamber will be the unveiling of a new website designed by Gagen.

“We’re getting a brand new look, and we need it,” Magnuson said.

Other updates included:

• Chain O’ Lakes Property Manager Sam Boggs reporting that the coronavirus had actually been good for business at the state park. The park’s revenues for 2020 set a record and 2021 numbers were nearly as strong.

Approximately 500,000 people visited the park each of the last two years, Boggs said.

New for this year will be eight additional paddle boats available for rent, a water filling station for RVs near the park entrance and a water main project which was recently completed. The park has also added 3 1/2 miles of new trails.

• Gatman announced her online business is going to be getting a brick and mortar location.

The company currently does its business on the web after getting items from estate sales.

“We buy all the personal property and sell it online,” Gatman said.

In the coming weeks, Gatman’s business will be branching out to an actual store front at the location of the former Baseline Outfitters at 320 S. Orange St.

• Leedy announced that the Fox Den was celebrating its 1-year anniversary in Albion’s downtown.

“I just want to thank everyone for your support,” Leedy said.

• Crossroads United Way representative Denise Landers reminded chamber members that all money raised for the organization in Noble County stays in Noble County, and that the popular Power of the Purse fundraiser would be held this coming November. Crossroads United Way serves Elkhart, LaGrange and Noble counties.

• Don Merriman, of Doc’s Hardware, announced that the location had opened up its greenhouse for the spring.

Magnuson also highlighted some of the chamber’s activities, including its participation in Halloween activities and the annual Christmas in the Village. The chamber also donated $2,000 last year to the annual flag program, helped purchase Christmas decotration and flowers. It is also orchestrates the townwide garage sales each year.

The chamber also donated to the fireworks, Junior Achievement, the Chain O’ Lakes Festival and Relay for Life and Cancer Services.

Albion Town Council president Vicki Jellison was on hand, and she expressed her gratitude for the good done by the town’s business community.

“I’d like to thank all of you for what you do for the community,” Jellison said.

Members were also encouraged to keep making those connections.

“Help market each other,” Petrie said. “Help each other’s businesses.”

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