By JAMES BELL
The Hays Chamber is beginning one of its largest projects of the year, compiling next year’s Community Guide.
The annual product helps keep the community connected, and even as area residents frequently go online to find area businesses and events, it remains a popular product.
“It is a tool circulated 12,000 different times every year, at least in hardcopy form,” said Hays Chamber president and CEO Sarah Wasinger.
This year’s guide will include the standard listings but will also incorporate some new features.
“There's pretty much anything you can think of in there,” said Mariah Legleiter, Hays Chamber vice president of marketing and communications. “We have several things going into it this year, including a couple new things. We call out specific businesses like hotels, motels, and lodging options and restaurants. We have a section in there for senior living accommodations and grocery stores and transportation options.”
This year's edition will also feature a special events spread that will showcase area providers for weddings, baby showers, anniversary parties, family reunions or any event with a big group of people.
“It's places that you can go to have catering, a space for everyone to meet flowers, linens, decorations, DJ services, and music,” Legleiter said. “I mean, really, it's just anything that you would need to plan a party. You can go to that spread and find our members that do that.”
Wasinger said the chamber frequently receives those types of business inquiries.
“And so, we love being able to showcase our members in that regard, but just in general,” she said.
For new residents or those looking for a local provider for an item or service, the guide can fill that need.
“It's a piece that means different things to different people,” Wasinger said. "So our good friends at the Hays Convention and Visitor's Bureau, whenever they're doing a welcome packet for a convention that's in town, they're actually including that piece in there. When we have our ag appreciation or education appreciation events, or our annual chamber banquet, whenever we have those events, we also put that publication.”
It also helps showcase the services offered in Hays and Ellis County in one location that serves as a marketing tool for the area.
“We frequently have our businesses reach out to us saying, ‘Hey, we've got a couple of people that were interviewing this next week, would we be able to get some welcome packets to showcase all the different things that are available, so they can feel comfortable with the community as well as the business that they're looking at going to for work,’” Wasinger said.
As the chamber wraps the production work for next year’s guide, Legleiter said ads must be received by Nov. 21 as production commences.
“I am quickly putting things together and kind of coming up with the layout,” she said. “And right now, I'm in the very beginning stages of getting it off the ground and going for this for 2023.”
She said for those needing ad design help, the chamber could assist as well.
“If folks need help designing their ad space, Mariah is equipped to do that,” Wasinger said. “And it's OK to use the same ad from one year to the next. It doesn't have to be something new.”
For those advertisers and members in the guide and for the community that uses it, Wasinger said the final product highlights the area.
“What I love is it really showcases the depth and breadth of our county,” Wasinger said. “You can look at different options, whether it's shopping, arts. We have a quality-of-life section that showcases why Hays and Ellis County are such great places to live, work and play.”
For more information about the Hays Chamber’s Community Guide, visit hayschamber.com.