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Larned Chamber recaps busy year at annual Banquet
Larned Chamber Commerce 2023
Flanked by Larned Chamber directors Alex Filbert and Julie Bugner Smith, Larned philanthropist Lewis Young was awarded the Chamber’s Empowering Leader for 2023 at Thursday evening’s annual Chamber banquet at Fort Larned National Historic Site.

LARNED — The Quartermaster’s Storehouse at Fort Larned National Historic Site provided a fitting venue for the Larned Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Community Chamber Banquet Thursday evening in Larned.

In addition to the annual year in review provided by Chamber Executive Director Alex Filbert, was a presentation of the Fort’s economic impact on the community, as well as a history quiz provided by local Pawnee County historian Tom Giessel.

Following the catered meal of roast beef and scalloped potatoes provided by Kevin and Michel Welch, owners of Edwards Street Brew & Bites, Superintendent Eads welcomed attending guests with a recap of the Fort’s impact through visitor attendance.

“Because this is a Chamber function, I wanted to share with you some of the visitor spending effects from the park,” he said. “At Fort Larned in 2022 we had 26,200 visitors come to the park. They spent an estimated $1.8 million during their visit in lodging, restaurants, fuel and other purchases. That’s an average of $68.65 per person.”

While admission to the Fort is free, it supports 24 area jobs. Its value-added contribution was estimated at $1.1 million, with $2 million in economic output to local economies, Eads noted.

“If you’ve not been to this park or any of the other four parks in the state, I would encourage you to do so. I’m very thankful for the businesses in Larned,” Eads said. “Without you, our visitation numbers would not be what they are.”

Filbert then reviewed the Chamber activities over the past year.

She noted that as of Thursday evening, the Chamber had hosted 42 Coffee Hours, with six more left on the schedule for the year. Filbert noted there were six ribbon cuttings and three after-hours events.

She reminded guests that the banquet counted as an event for the Chamber’s current Passport program, which has a drawing prize of $150 at the end of the year.

In addition to workshops and webinars, the Chamber provides information on grants and other funding opportunities. The Chamber also partners with 59 Chambers across Kansas to provide commercial health insurance through the Chamber Blue Health insurance program.

The balance of the evening was spent in announcing the Chamber’s annual awards.

Award winners for 2023 included:

Large Business: Fusion Bank

Small Business: Reed Pharmacy

Non-Profit Organization: Welcome Inn Senior Center

Volunteer: Kyle Beckwith

Emerging Leader: Jarred Smith

Empowering Leader: Lewis Young