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Odden takes helm as new Chamber/CVB director

By Staff | Jun 11, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Laurie Odden is already busy as the new executive director of the Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Laurie Odden started her first day as executive director of the Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau last week with plenty of work to do.

“I started June first,” Odden said. “Monday was my first day. New month, new beginnings, here we go,” she added with a laugh.

“I’m super excited,” the Rugby native said of her new position. “The chamber side of it is just really exciting to me, to be able to promote Rugby, promote businesses and bring people to our town and make our town great,” Odden said.

“The convention and visitors side of Rugby is to attract people to Rugby and bring them here,” she added. “It’s to make the Northern Lights Tower and places in town here attractive and beautiful, and to encourage events to come to town.”

Odden noted, “This week, already, I’ve been working with the Smackdab Motorcycle Run. They’re going to do their run on the summer solstice on the 20th. They’re still planning to come here. It’s been fun to visit with them and tell them what our town has to offer. Most of the riders with this group have done this before, so they know. I don’t really have to brag about Rugby.”

The Smackdab event takes place every year on the first day of summer. Motorcycle riders travel from the geographical center of the 48 contiguous United States in Lebanon, Kansas, to the geographical center of North America in Rugby. The run takes about 16 hours to complete and covers 675 miles.

“We’re excited about them. This is usually a pretty big event. They have had up to 200 people in the past. One of the changes they did was to limit the number of participants to 100,” Odden said, explaining how riders adjusted to pandemic guidelines.

“Their ride looks a little different, but they still want to come here and we still want to welcome them,” Odden said.

Odden said her position is “a dual job. My job is to represent the chamber of commerce and also the convention and visitors bureau. We have two separate boards on each side that govern this office.”

Odden said both the chamber and the CVB looked forward to Rugby’s new Home of Economy store. “I think that will be a great attraction for people to come to this town.”

“It’s amazing how many people come to our (geographical center) monument when they’re driving through (town),” Odden added. “I notice it all the time, but even more so now that I’ve been watering the plants and the flowers out there. Every time I stop to do that, there are people from out of state who want to take their pictures. It’s fun to just tell them about places they can go in the surrounding area here. They can go downtown. There are a lot of things we can offer people.”

Odden described herself as a big supporter of Rugby “all my life.” I grew up here, so Rugby has a special place in my heart. I never left (after growing up). I stayed here. I’m excited for this new opportunity. There will be some fun things we can do to promote Rugby and do a lot of great things out here.”

Odden said she left her position as senior community manager for the American Cancer Society in North Dakota to stay closer to home.

Odden added, “One thing I’d like to let all the chamber businesses know is that I’m here and I’m new. I have a lot of things to learn, but my goal is to get out there to visit all the businesses and see what I can do for you and how to help you.”

“Also,” she added, “We’re looking for people on our boards. The chamber of commerce board has a few openings and the CVB has some openings on that board. Anyone who has any interest or is just looking to help with a project or two, I’m happy for anyone who’d like to help a little or help a lot.”

“My office hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five,” Odden said. “I plan to be out in the community a lot, so I’m not always going to be in the office, but just call me at 776-5846 and leave a message. I’ll get back to you.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, but it’s just going to take a little bit of time because I have a lot of people to see,” Odden noted with a smile.

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