11/08/10 — Chamber searching for new president

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Chamber searching for new president

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 8, 2010 1:48 PM

Less than a week after Wayne County Chamber of Commerce President Steve Hicks announced his plans to retire on Dec. 31, the board of directors has already begun the search for his replacement.

"We definitely appreciate the job Steve's done, and we're going to aggressively start looking for a replacement," board chairwoman Julie Daniels said.

It's a search the board hopes will take about 30 days, and one that will span beyond just Wayne County.

"We'd like to find somebody with some chamber experience to help give us some direction and help with our recent challenges," she said.

Mrs. Daniels said the board is also looking for somebody willing and able to work within the recently adopted five-year strategic plan.

"I feel like we have a great plan in place with the strategic plan, and we know where we want to go," she said.

Among the board's recent challenges are a decline in both membership investment and non-dues income, which led to the decision to eliminate two of its membership and marketing positions.

However, both Hicks and Mrs. Daniels said, those challenges did not play a factor in his decision to retire. And in fact, Mrs. Daniels said, Hicks' decision came as a surprise to her and the rest of the board.

"It had been brought up that he might possibly be looking at retirement someday, but we had not been preparing for that in any way," she said.

And so she admitted that "timing wise, having until Jan. 1, that could be challenging."

But, she said board members have talked to Hicks about the possibility of staying on until his successor is in place, and are hopeful that he will agree.

Among the other qualifications being sought in potential candidates are at least a bachelor's degree in business, law, public administration, marketing or other related field, five years experience in a leadership position in a similarly sized Chamber of Commerce or related business association, as well as experience dealing with both a board of directors and a large number of volunteers.

"We're looking for someone ready for a challenge and who can come in here and provide some excitement and reinvigorate the Chamber," Mrs. Daniels said. "We're looking at it as an opportunity for somebody to come in with some new ideas."

But, she noted again, they're also looking for somebody willing to work within the framework of the strategic plan -- somebody who can improve upon it, yes, but not somebody who's going to try to blow it up and go a different direction.

"We feel like we have the plan in place that is of best benefit to our members and the county. We feel that this plan will take us where we need to go," she said. "So we're all very optimistic we can find a good candidate that will help us improve the Chamber and who can keep us on the right track for the five-year plan."