News From Terre Haute, Indiana


February 8, 2014

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Local businesses ring the bell one ribbon cutting a time

TERRE HAUTE — This week, I came across a video of football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and World Champion Alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. They were appearing to celebrate the launch of the Under Armour’s Speedform Apollo running shoe and accompanying global marketing campaign. This was all part of the NYSE’s Super Bell Week, which highlighted a variety of brands, companies and events that all helped to hype the Super Bowl.

Through more googling, I found a list of bell ringers and a wide variety of company representatives, award winners, fictional characters and generally very impressive people who have had the honor of literally starting or ending business across the nation. It made me wonder how this tradition began and how it has evolved into the special ceremony it is today. Turns out, it wasn’t always a bell that was rung; it used to be a gavel. Also, bell ringing hasn’t always been the highly publicized event it is today, until special guests started to ring the bell on a regular schedule in 1995.

All of this made me wonder, is there something we can do on the local level to literally start business in our community? Then it hit me – we start business every time we cut the ribbon or shovel dirt at a ribbon cutting, grand opening or groundbreaking. All of these ceremonies serve one purpose – to celebrate the start of commerce and share that success with the community. If you take a look at the Chamber’s calendar, you will find member celebrations— ribbon cuttings and grand openings — are held with regularity throughout the year.

With this in mind, I thought it a good time to understand why the Chamber conducts these member celebrations and how you or your business can get involved.

If you are looking for a way to let the community know you have moved, expanded or started your business, consider hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony to start driving business through your doors.

The following is what the Chamber provides to our members for these events:

• Invite the mayor and/or other local government officials to attend

• Invite the local media to cover the event

• Invite the Chamber Ambassadors to attend and assist

• Provide the ribbon and scissors for the cutting

• Promote the event via the Chamber’s eProgress newsletter and calendar of events

• Take photos of the event and post to the Chamber’s social media

Here are a few things you need to know:

• Ribbon cuttings are currently available at no charge to Chamber members to help celebrate special occasions, such as a new location, new business, extensive remodeling, expansion or special anniversary.

• The business must be a member of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce in good standing.

• Ribbon cuttings must be held during regular Chamber of Commerce hours — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

• Ribbon cuttings are usually brief. Some businesses plan a ceremony with guest speakers and an agenda; however, most businesses just have key people (owner/manager) make a few remarks. The mayor and the Chamber president/CEO (if attending) also make a short presentation.

Are you interested in scheduling an event at your place of business? Here is what you need to do:

• Complete the Ribbon Cutting Scheduling & Media Information Form available at and return it to the Chamber. Ribbon cuttings must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance.

• Choose a time convenient to guests. Experience shows that events planned Monday through Friday garner the best attendance and enable officials, dignitaries and Chamber Ambassadors to attend. Celebrations held earlier in the day have a better chance of making the daily news cycle should the media attend.

• Invite customers, vendors, colleagues, family and friends. Send invitations, put information on your sign or marquee, and use your website and social media to promote the celebration.

• After the ribbon is cut, plan activities, such as a tour of your business, for the people who attend. Remember this is your chance to showcase your business so take advantage of the situation. Serve refreshments and possibly have a drawing for door prizes. You could also have promotional gifts with your business information. Make sure to have plenty of business cards and brochures for your guests to take with them.

If you have any questions about ribbon cuttings or ground breaking celebrations, please contact Mary Riley, director of networking and member programs, or Dawn Maxwell, director of membership and community programs at 812-232-2391.

Kristin Craig is the Director of Operations and Communications for the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce. Along with Chamber President Ken Brengle, they will address important topics related to business each month through this column. For more information about the Chamber and its initiatives, visit or call 812-232-2391.

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