The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is currently in the hunt for a new Executive Director. Whoever is chosen will have some big shoes to fill. Lezlie Strasser, who left the job at the Chamber earlier this year, and over her 32-year career, she did much to shape the modern organization.
Now that the Chamber is in between Executives, I feel it is the perfect time to weigh-in on where I think the Chamber should go in the future to better serve the Cornwall community and who would be the right person to lead that initiative.
I’m not basing these opinions in a vacuum. I’ve looked at what the Canadian Chamber of Commerce does and there are some key points that I think our local organization can adopt to improve the local economy.
I believe that the future of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce will depend on the services it provides and not entirely on events that it holds.
Events such as seminars and guest speakers are important, but it is access to services that entrepreneurs and small business owners need on a daily basis that will make the real difference.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce on its website offers access to skills training, industry experts, productivity tools and funding sources. The Cornwall Chamber on its website does offer links to funding resources, but I feel that not having and promoting access to skills training especially is a missed opportunity.
The future of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce lies in being a hub for business growth, as it should be, which means providing access to skills training for a variety of industries and promoting employment.
Building a strong workforce is just one challenge that businesses of all sizes face in Cornwall. The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce should be the source of business solutions in the city. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce offers a Business Concierge service where business owners can submit questions or problems and the Chamber will research solutions. This would be a great initiative for the Cornwall Chamber to adopt as well.
Earlier this year, the Chamber announced that it would be selling their property on the corner of Second and Sydney streets. I believe that this is a smart move. The Chamber requires an office, not ownership of a whole building and the headaches that come with that.
As for the person who I believe should be the next Executive Director, I think we need a person who is ambitious and dynamic. Someone who is eager to try new things, and won’t be discouraged or deterred when they are told “no”. We need bold thinking, we need new thinking; which is why I believe that the new Executive Manager of the Chamber should be innovative and open minded. The executive board, while reviewing the local applicants, should also look at someone from outside the community from another small city, or someone who left and live in other places and has now returned with fresh eyes and knowledge.
In terms of professional background, the new Executive Director should have experience in all forms of marketing including print. They should understand how to create websites and conduct e-commerce. Finally, the new Cornwall Chamber of Commerce Executive Director should have experience and a proven track record in securing funding, not just from governmental organizations, but also from angel investors.
In their job posting for the Executive Director job, the Chamber emphasizes that Cornwall is a great place to live and work, which tells me that they are looking outside of the community for this hire. This is something that I’m not opposed to. The Executive Director job at the Chamber of Commerce is also a political position, and perhaps it would be good to get someone with an outside perspective, who isn’t beholden to any allegiances that they may have that comes with living for a long while in a small community.
What do you think readers? What do you want out of your local Chamber of Commerce and who should be its new executive? Email me a Letter to the Editor at email@example.com