By Natalie Bazinet
CARIBOU — Moving forward with the decision to remove economic development from the Caribou Chamber of Commerce and the resulting re-organization, lead by the Chamber of Commerce’s Steering Committee, the chamber has a new interim chamber director.
Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie Bazinet
Board members of the Caribou Chamber of Commerce and steering committee members Joseph Sleeper, Shawn Anderson and Troy Heald stand behind the new Interim Chamber Director Jenny Coon.
Longtime chamber employee Jenny Coon started her new job as interim director on Jan. 17, and has been busy ever since promoting the upcoming Annual Recognition Dinner — nominations for which are still being sought — and assisting with the annual, highly anticipated Caribou Winter Carnival.
Coon was praised by members of the Chamber’s board of directors for not missing a beat when it comes to promoting the community, and Steering Committee members Joseph Sleeper, Shawn Anderson, Troy Heald and Shawn Pelletier have stayed busy as well developing new guidelines for the Chamber’s operation as well as creating a more specific job description for the future chamber director.
“With the confirmation from [Chamber] members of the boards decision to reorganize the chamber, it’s allowed the organization to move forward with a single focus, which is on promoting Caribou’s community,” Anderson said.
Confirmation from chamber members came through a vote; a ballot and correlating information was sent to all chamber members in good stand “to ratify the decision of the Board of Directors to restructure the Caribou Chamber of Commerce and Industry into two separate entities — one entity dedicated solely to economic development and one entity dedicated to Chamber of Commerce activities in accordance with the attached summary.”
The votes were tallied on Jan. 21 — of the 60 ballots returned there were 45 votes “for,” 10 votes “against,” and five votes abstaining.
Regardless of how Chamber members voted on the January ballot, the city assumed responsibility for economic development in Caribou on Jan. 1, as voted upon by the Caribou Chamber of Commerce board of directors last year.
“The overwhelming affirmation of the board’s decision to restructure what I considered two entities operating under one roof — 75 percent voted in favor of it —gives us a sense that we did the right thing at the right time,” said Anderson.
Sleeper feels that the reorganization will allow Chamber directors more time to focus specifically on the Caribou community and other Chamber activities now that economic development has been taken out of the chamber equation.
“[Before,] we’ve never been able to dedicate this amount of time specifically for the chamber,” he said. “The Chamber get it’s own board who’s responsibility is solely the Chamber — and we owe that to the Chamber.”