Chamber makes big plans for small town

November 05, 2001|By JASON ZARA, Special to this newspaper

If an event success is successful by its name recognition, the Holtville Chamber of Commerce has done a fine job with the Holtville Carrot Festival.

Each year, thousands of people flock to Holtville for the week-long festival, the largest event of the year for the Holtville chamber.

Not only locals are attracted to the festival. It is a favorite destination for snowbirds as well.

Gary Chilcott, Holtville chamber vice president, said the Carrot Festival is the "Main

centerpoint for not only fundraising but it's the main project we have every year. It helps identify Holtville."

The 55th annual Carrot Festival will be Jan. 25 through Feb. 3.

Chamber president Sylvia Nelson said the Holtville chamber stages other events including Christmas in the Park, an annual Easter egg hunt and

works closely with the Holtville Athletic Club.

"This year we've done more mixers," Nelson said. "We've tried to have a mixer every month."


"It's a joint effort," she said. "Everybody just works together and we all are still friends after it's over."

In addition to local efforts, the Holtville chamber is a member of the Joint Chambers of Commerce. Chamber treasurer Gene Wilcox represents Holtville at the Joint Chambers' meetings and is

the chairman of the Business Showcase.

Holtville chamber Executive Secretary Dana Hawk said the chamber has 130 members and about 75-80 percent are businesses. Membership includes farmers, farm-related businesses, restaurants, grocers, banks, insurance agents and


"It's a small town — everybody knows everybody, everybody is willing to

support us and work with us," Nelson said.

Nelson said the chamber would like to update its brochure and get out to the

community more.

"The Valley is changing all the time. Yes, we'd like to bring business to Holtville but we'd like to keep it the small town atmosphere," she said.

Added Chilcott: "We want to keep the small town atmosphere but we want to grow."

Wilcox said when Highway 7 is in place near town in coming years, it may spur growth.

"Most of the new businesses are on the 86 corridor," he said.

Nelson also thinks Highway 7 may help Holtville.

"We have a lot to offer but we're kind of isolated," Nelson said.

For Holtville to grow, more residences are needed as well as a larger tax base.

"One of the things we're looking for is some kind of housing development," Chilcott said.

"I think there are a couple in the works," added Nelson.

While the chamber members and others are supportive, Holtville has a relatively small population of about 6,000 to call upon for assistance, meaning businesses are asked to contribute frequently.

"We'd like to see some clean industry come in here and give us some kind of tax base so the individuals don't have to take care of the schools and the

streets," Chilcott said.

Despite its size, Holtville residents seem to agree it is the best place to live in the Imperial Valley.

Wilcox said most residents of Holtville work outside the city but that doesn't change the fact that they choose to live in Holtville.

Said Nelson: "They still like to live in Holtville and go to Holtville schools.

"This is the best city to live in," she added.

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