Marcy Eastham just got a whole lot busier.
The Town & Country Realty agent and former government affairs director for Hewlett-Packard has accepted an interim position as the president and CEO of the Corvallis-Benton Chamber Coalition. She’ll continue her real-estate work, meaning that Eastham will have a lot on her plate. (“That’s OK,” we overheard her saying at the recent Business After Hours Summer Fiesta. “I like to be busy. I’m best organized when I have a lot to do.”)
For the background on Eastham’s move to this interim position, see the Corvallis Gazette-Times article: Rusk leaves Chamber; Eastham steps in.
We asked Marcy, who has served on the Chamber board and as its chair, about her new role with the Chamber Coalition, and even though she’s less than two weeks in, she had some thoughts on direction for the organization.
Q.: How will you spend your time as interim director? Will you be at events and talking to members, or working behind the scenes to make improvements, etc.?
A.: Certainly there will be work to do behind the scenes, but my first objective is to connect with our members and the business community as much as possible. I will be at events and service organization meetings to meet with our members and non-members to help understand their needs. I will also be stopping by many of our member businesses to just say “thank you for your support.” We are engaging staff in member outreach, and connecting with our friends in the public sector as well. I am very excited at the tremendous opportunity we have to evaluate our programs and services while moving forward in support of the business community.
Q.: How does having served as chair of the Chamber board and working in public relations for a major corporation help you be effective in this new role?
A.: I do think my experience will be valuable in this interim role. I served on the Chamber Board for seven years, served as Board Chair, and have been involved with many Chamber committees and programs over the years. I also bring some institutional memory to my role because of that history. I believe my work with other organizations throughout the state and Pacific Northwest enhances that experience and gives me the ability to consider new ways of doing things and consider whether to incorporate some best practices of other groups.
My work in Public Relations and Public Affairs allowed me to get to know a lot of people in Corvallis and participate in many, many community organizations such as United Way, Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis, 509J programs, and dozens of others. I also understand that good relationships are critical to success, and I intend to be the Chamber’s cheerleader as a support organization for local business. We have a lot of work to do in this community, and we have to be good partners, great collaborators, and willing to do things in different ways. I want to be involved and be committed in this role.
Q.: How do you think the Chamber is doing at communicating with all its members?
A.: I think we need to be doing more outreach to our members and potential members. Communication must reach members in different ways to suit their needs, both using new technologies and old-school methods. We will be holding Chamber Forums again to share information relevant to our members, and those on Facebook and Twitter will hear from us more often. We will be highlighting member companies in different ways and out in the community more often.
Q.: We’ve heard some things about budget issues that might force layoffs or cutbacks in service. While you’re likely still sorting through these issues, do you see some hope for the Chamber financially in the next year or will it be tough sailing, so to speak?
A.: The recent economic turbulence has been tough on everyone, and as an organization dependent on business memberships we have certainly seen the impact on the local business community. However, there are tremendous opportunities for the Chamber in the coming year as we evaluate our programs and focus on providing valuable services for our members. We are also excited about new collaborative programs, such as Oregon “Q” Care that we are working on with Corvallis Tourism and the Downtown Corvallis Association that will benefit the entire business community in our region.
Q.: What kind of assistance do you need right now from Chamber members?
A.: We need our members in many ways. We need volunteers to help plan events such as Celebrate Corvallis to make them very special. We need their support in promoting the Chamber as a good partner for business. But most of all, we need them to connect with us. Attend events. Talk with us on Facebook and Twitter. If you haven’t been involved with the Chamber for awhile and would like to reconnect, give me a call. Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about what the Chamber has meant to you and where we should be going in the future. This is YOUR Chamber. We need you!
Five Questions is an occasional feature on the Visual People blog. This blog promotes Internet marketing, marketing communications and small business issues, particularly in the area around Corvallis and Albany, Oregon.