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Taking charge at the Wells Chamber

Michelle Brandt excited to be new chamber executive director

July 9, 2017
Katie Mullaly - Register Staff Writer ( , Faribault County Register

She may be a familiar face in the city of Wells but now that she has become the new chamber of commerce director, Michelle Brandt will become a very familiar face to its townspeople.

Brandt, who grew up in Crystal, Minnesota, and just recently moved to the Wells area says her dedication to community service throughout her life is what gets her excited about the opportunity of being the chamber director.

Brandt says her local pageantry background back in Crystal is what kicked her enjoyment of giving back to the community into high gear.

Article Photos

Michelle Brandt, the new executive director of the Wells Chamber of Commerce, has been busy in her new office. She is shown above at her desk in the chamber office in downtown Wells.

When she was younger and living in Crystal, her grandfather sent her down to the local VFW to talk with the board members to discuss a service opportunity for her. Knowing her grandfather's friends, she obliged by going to the VFW.

There, she was asked, in front of a plethora of VFW?members, to be a contestant for Miss Crystal, Minnesota.

"I told them I was not from Crystal. My family grew up right outside of the town itself," says Brandt. "But they reassured me that since my grandpa was a resident of Crystal, that I could be in the contest."

Brandt says she was nervous, but willing to participate in the contest.

"It's hard to say no to a group of older veterans," she says, laughing.

The day of the contest came, and after weeks and weeks of rehearsals and practices, Brandt took the contest in stride.

"It was like any other pageant, and about 20 minutes in, I just really wasn't focused on winning, but more about having fun," she says.

After the second runner up was crowned, Brandt was ready to admit defeat and at least be able to tell her new friends at the VFW?that she had a good time.

"When I actually won, it was a little shocking, but I was honored," she laughed. "So, now, whenever I see Lil' Miss Kernels, I just have very fond memories of my days as Miss Crystal. The entire process really helped me to see the importance of being active in a small community, and I hope I?can bring that same sense of community pride to Wells."

Brandt has four children, all of whom are in the United South Central School District. Her oldest son, Kyle, just graduated from USC, while Collin, 16, still has a year or two before he graduates, and twins Ethan and Natalie are both 12. She says it was her children's attendance at the school that also encouraged her to take on the position of chamber director.

"When we first moved here, and my kids were involved in activities, striking up conversations with parents was a little difficult being new to the area, and as time went on it became easier," says Brandt. "Now that I have this position, I feel like I'll be able to get to know parents of students a little better knowing I'll be working with some of them and their businesses through the chamber."

So, what does a chamber of commerce do for a small town? A chamber of commerce is a local association that promotes and protects the interests of the business community in a town, like Wells.

Brandt says she is excited to be directly involved in Kernel Days and Wells' Las Vegas Night, another large event that takes place in the fall in Wells.

"The thing that is unique to our chamber that you may not see with many other chambers is that we reach out beyond the city of Wells and really try to bring together all of the businesses in the towns covered by our school district," says Brandt.

The Wells Chamber includes businesses from Wells, Kiester, Bricelyn, Easton, Walters, and even Freeborn.

"This really holds us accountable to continue to bring our communities close and work together," says Brandt. "I think it's great. Not only does it allow us to help each other out, but it also shows what we can do together rather than just standing alone. It also shows our students what we can accomplish together, as well."

And though previous director, Emily Hassing, is no longer the director, Brandt says Hassing is staying on the Chamber Board and will continue to assist Brandt throughout her first year at the chamber.

"I still have a lot of the smaller aspects of the job to learn and Emily has been kind enough to help me out in my first year of transition," says Brandt.

Office hours have changed slightly, notes Brandt. Instead of being open Mondays and Wednesdays, the Wells Area Chamber will be open Monday and Thursday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

"I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to stop in and say hello. I would love to get to know names and faces in the community better," Brandt says with a beaming smile.



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