Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Turmoil at the Chamber

Things are not good over at the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce.

The board announced last Friday that Executive Director Cherie Ferguson had resigned after nine months on the job. Ferguson told me last Sunday that she didn’t resign.

It’s unclear what this all means at this point, whether Ferguson will attempt to stay in the position with new board members coming on or if the board is firing her or what, exactly.

What is clear is that the Chamber needs to reevaluate what it’s doing. Sisters is looking at several years of tough economic times. Now more than ever we need an organization that is firing on all cylinders, attracting visitors to town and providing them the resources to get the most out of their time here.

The Chamber needs to take a hard, honest look at itself — what it can do well and what it cannot do. There seems to be an impetus for creating an economic development director position in Sisters. What will be the Chamber’s role?

Marketing Sisters to the rest of the state, the nation, the world, is going to be critical in the coming years as Sisters falls back on its main industry: tourism. If marketing Sisters effectively is beyond the financial and organizational capacity of the Chamber, it needs to acknowledge that this is so and make room for some other organization or coalition to do the work.

There are many fine people involved with the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce and the failure of the organization to set a productive direction or gain any traction is not a reflection upon them as individuals. But the organization as a whole is not functioning the way it should and it needs to be fixed, revamped or scrapped — and right now.

Sisters needs and deserves more.

Jim Cornelius, Editor

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