Over the years, the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the city on many projects — the most recent being the concert stage and event center at the fairgrounds.

However, since helping fund these projects has impacted the Chamber’s reserves, Chamber officials are asking the community for help this time.

While the Chamber has been able to pay up-front for many of the past projects, “we just can’t give the help like we did in the past,” said Mark Wessels, Chamber president and CEO.

So far, the majority of organizations and businesses that Chamber staff and an ad hoc committee has approached has been receptive to contributing to the project.

Sieve Contractors, Inc. was awarded the stage project on a bid of $645,000, but Wessels said with in-kind services that amount could total close to three-quarters of a million dollars.

The Chamber has pledged $335,000 toward the project, to be paid over the next five years, with the city providing the remaining amount.

To help the Chamber meet its commitment, roughly 10 members of the Chamber’s ad hoc committee, led by Colleen Himmelberg, has held 22 face-to-face presentations about the project over the last five to six weeks.

So far, three service clubs and three businesses have agreed to contribute a total of at least $140,000 over the next five years toward the Chamber’s contribution.

The Washington Lions Club committed to $50,000 and the Washington Jaycees committed to $10,000.

The Washington Rotary Club committed to $25,000 and will match up to 25 individual member contributions of up to $1,000 each.

Citizens Bank and Deppe Farms committed to $25,000 each and Wiemann & Pues Insurance Agency has agreed to a $5,000 contribution.

Wessels said most of the other groups of businesses the committee talked to have stated they will look at participating somehow or were waiting on approval from their corporate offices or boards of directors.

Additionally, Washington Engineering and Architecture designed the facility at no charge, which Wessels estimates was about $45,000 worth of work.

Wessels said in-kind services to be provided by city workers will total approximately $85,000.

A plaque recognizing contributors is planned to be located on the exterior of the building, once completed north of Veterans Drive near Lions Lake.

About the Event Center

The facility will house a 5,000-square-foot reinforced concrete main stage, a 1,200-square-foot high-ceiling storage area, an 800-square-foot recreation room, a 400-square-foot office area, restrooms, loading docks and driveways and paved parking for 15 to 20 vehicles.

In addition to being used during the Fair, the multi-use facility will be used throughout the year for park department or school programs and other events.

“It will be used by many people. It’s not just a Fair facility,” Wessels said.

It will provide a low-cost rental space for recreational purposes, more storage area for the parks department, a safe venue for large, main stage events and more parking around Lions Lake.

Partners for Projects

Wessels estimates that between 2004 and 2011, the Chamber has contributed more than $665,000 toward capital projects through partnerships with the city.

The projects and Chamber’s contributions are as follows:

• $156,000 for the swine pavilion;

• $73,000 for the volunteer clock and brick wall, plus painting;

• $27,000 for the administration building roof;

• $135,000 for the motor sports arena with a loading dock and fencing, backstop and gates;

• $218,000 for ball diamond fencing, the ambulance building, lake pavilion extensions and the Farmers’ Market;

• $26,000 for remodeling the lunch stand;

• $10,000 for the loading dock behind the home economics building and renovation of the livestock building; and

• $20,000 for the flag memorial and insulation and air-conditioning work at the home economics building.

These figures don’t include labor and service hours. Wessels added that the Chamber owns none of the projects listed.

The Chamber also annually budgets $16,500 each for the city’s economic development office and tourism and $750 for the sister-city partnership.

Many city departments help with Chamber efforts, as well.

Individuals, groups or businesses interested in hearing a presentation by the Chamber or participating may call 636-239-2715.