December may be the best time to spread a little joy and thankfulness, and that’s what the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce did Wednesday afternoon at its 40th Anniversary Awards Celebration and Business Expo, held at the Rio Rancho Events Center.
RRRCC President and CEO Jerry Schalow presided over the festivities, held after lunch provided by the events center.
Schalow touted the chamber’s achievements of 2020 and ‘21, during which the RRRCC did what it could with the U.S. 2020 Census to advance the City of Vision into the No. 2 spot in the state.
Instead, Albuquerque and then Las Cruces remain at No. 1 and No. 2 in population.
A wide range of businesses survived during the pandemic, he said, with RRRCC trying its best to retain them with its social media presence. These features included “Chamber Chat” and “Tour de Local,” which he said “brought businesses to people.”
The chamber also played a role, he said, in Sandoval County showing the largest “local revenue growth” in the region, which includes Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, and he thanked the City of Rio Rancho, the Village of Corrales and Sandoval County for their efforts.
Eight 20-year chamber members were applauded after receiving plaques, with SOS (Shop on Southern) founders and participants also awarded and applauded.
SOS Founders, who helped make the reconstruction project of that busy thoroughfare — “Rio Rancho’s Main Street,” said Schalow — more successful than originally imagined were Joe’s Pasta House, Turtle Mountain Brewing Co., KDSK Radio, Harris Jewelers, Salon Deluxe, Flowers & Things and WESST. SOS’s participating businesses were Bank of Albuquerque, Jalene Berger Allstate Agency, Brew Lab 101, City of Rio Rancho, Elevate Trampoline Park, Magic Mirror Photo Booth, New Mexico Bank & Trust, Truly Nolen, O’Hare’s Grille and Pub, Planet Fitness, Edit House and the Rio Rancho Observer.
Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull, noted Schalow, “helped grease the wheels” by easing signage restrictions during the project.
“Everything went smoothly with it,” Schalow said. “Hats off to all these folks.”
Many of the businesses along that stretch of Southern reported increased revenue during the roadwork, and no businesses there closed despite the detours, he said. In light of the project’s success, Schalow said he’d had “a number of communities reach out for information on the project.”
Other chamber successes, he said, included Leadership Sandoval County and the state’s only chamber of commerce nonprofit alliance, which includes 64 area nonprofits.
Special awards were also handed out Wednesday:
• New Business of the Year: Brew Lab 101.
• Large Business of the Year: Brycon Corporation.
• Nonprofit of the Year: LifeROOTS.
• Volunteer of the Year: Shannon Muller.
• Humanitarian of the Year: Gordon Moore.
RRRCC is expected to occupy its new offices, 401 Crestview Drive — a former Bank of America site just south of Target — after a ribbon-cutting there Jan. 11.
“We’re excited about these things, and the chamber is here for you,” Schalow said.