Let’s have a ribbon cutting

Ribbon cutting ceremonies are just one of the many activities that the Alpena Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors are responsible for. The Ambassadors are a group of 25 (plus some emeritus) energetic volunteers for the Chamber of Commerce. They are the worker bees and planning committee behind many of the events that the Chamber hosts. In addition to the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, they also plan the FLOG Fest golf outing, the Alpenopoly Grub Crawl, our Annual Dinner, and the Red White and Blue Review. They also are responsible for raising the funds for the Fourth of July fireworks. Since the beginning of 2010, the Ambassadors have helped over 110 businesses and other organizations celebrate grand openings, reopenings, significant investments, and other milestones with ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Ribbon cuttings are not complicated. The Chamber of Commerce provides the ribbon, the giant scissors, a certificate, and an Ambassador photographer. The instructions to the business or organization are simple – just make sure everyone they want in the photo is present at the time of the ribbon cutting, and give us at least a week’s notice of the date and time they’d like a ribbon cutting.

On the day of the ribbon cutting, the Ambassadors, Chamber staff, and other guests show up at the ribbon cutting location. The ribbon is stretched across the best location for the photo, and everyone stands behind the ribbon. The owner of the business stands in the front of the crowd, but behind the ribbon, surrounded by his or her guests. One of the guests holds the certificate. The photographer counts to three, and on three the ribbon is cut. Sometimes there is an open house or building tours following the cutting, and sometimes there are refreshments and prizes, but these are not requirements for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

For something so simple to conduct, the act of a ribbon cutting symbolizes something much greater, and something that an enormous amount of work went into.

Most sources indicate that ribbon cuttings started as a tradition of European wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom would cut a ribbon, and then cross the cut ribbon to symbolize embarking on a new path together. The tradition is said to have moved to the United States in the late 1800s or early 1900s when railroad companies began using the cutting of ribbons to celebrate new routes.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies that happen today still have a strong symbolic meaning. They are used to celebrate a new path, or fresh start. A new business uses the ribbon cutting ceremony to show the world that they are open for business. A business that recently experienced a major improvement, investment, or other significant change uses the ceremony to celebrate the change and to share it with others. In either case, they are presenting what is waiting beyond the ribbon to the rest of the community, state, or world. Starting a new endeavor is not easy. It takes a lot of work to take an idea and turn it into the reality of a business. When you see a ribbon cutting, you can be assured that it represents a significant amount of investment by the business owner or organization leadership.

With everything happening in Alpena right now, I feel like we should hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony simultaneously at each of our major entrances. We should be celebrating the major investments being made in our community right now, and the tremendous increase in activity we’ve been experiencing. If I could stretch a ribbon around the entire community and hold a ribbon cutting, I would. Just like starting a business takes a lot of work, a lot of work has also gone into getting this community to this point.

I want the world to see what hopefully you now see and feel. I want to share this community with everyone. If we held a community ribbon cutting, we would be presenting something to the world that is incredibly special and something to be immensely proud of. Just like ribbon cuttings were started to showcase a new endeavor or direction, I want to tell everyone that we are also heading down an exciting new path and are indeed open for business!

Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.