The Carbon County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development on Thursday celebrated the opening of its new office at 137 South St., Lehighton, and the recent merger of the Carbon County Chamber and Carbon County Economic Development with a ribbon cutting, educational seminars, tours of the new facility, refreshments and opportunities for members to network and learn about the function of the new chamber.

Taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony were members of the chamber and local and state officials.

Mike Harleman, chamber president, sliced through the ribbon with oversize scissors to officially open the office amid congratulations and laughter, making it moment to remember.

Dawn Ferrante, executive director of the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, was on hand, as well as Marlyn Kissner, executive vice president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, to welcome guests, dignitaries and members.

Ferrante and Kissner also led two of the educational sessions, "Who We Service and How to Get the Most Out of Your Membership," and "CCEDC Committees and Volunteer Opportunities."

Ferrante said she was taking a cue from Woody Allen, who said that 80 percent of success is showing up.

She added that the chamber is experimenting with doing things differently than in the past, because if it hasn't been working, it's time to make changes.

She said that it is important for members to meet people and get to know them, and that is why attending mixers is so important for members.

"People tend to do business with people they know," she said. "The more you put into the chamber, the more you will get out of it."

Ferrante also noted that the new chamber office has space available for members to use to meet with clients and to hold meetings or get-togethers.

She said that the new chamber focus is looking at the big picture, to create a community where new businesses are supported and welcomed.

"When businesses are stable it creates an overall strong community," she added.

Kissner said that the chamber is pairing people with like mindsets to work together on committees because people who are passionate about what they are going to do a good job.

The chamber has a variety of committees. One committee plans the signature events, such as the annual dinner, golf outing and business expo, which bring in the bulk of the chamber's budget. There are also the marketing, tourism, volunteer, education, and accommodations committees, Women In Business, event ambassador, and Leadership Carbon.

She noted that Pat Handwerk chairs the marketing committee and develops the handouts, brochures and promotions, while the tourism committee focuses on tourism related issues at the county, regional and state level on behalf of Carbon County tourist related businesses.

The accommodations committee provides a forum to discuss opportunities for lodging in Carbon County.

Women in Business is a luncheon for women to meet and network once a month.

The event ambassador is a position that offers friendly people an opportunity to promote and support local businesses one-to-one at networking events.

The volunteer committee supports all committees and offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities.

The education committee sets up seminars and training sessions on a variety of topics relevant to small businesses.

Leadership Carbon is a program that trains leaders in business and also in the community.

There are a number of networking events and programs scheduled.

* June 11, 5 to 7 p.m. Rentschler Chrysler Jeep Dodge-Ram Chevrolet mixer, Slatington

* June 20, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Castle Grill Mixer, Lehighton

* June 25, 5 to 7 p.m., Blue Mountain Ski Area, Palmerton, Greater Lehigh Valley and Carbon County chambers

* July 18, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary Mixer, Jim Thorpe

* July 23, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., R.F. Ohl Business mixer, Franklin Township

* July 26, CCEDC Golf tournament, Blue Ridge Country Club, Palmerton