Tahoe Chamber enters new chapter (opinion)
Tribune Opinion Columnist
For each of us and the organizations we touch, there are chapters that unfold as the years pass. In the beginning we are learning the characters, but as time moves on we often play a role in adding characters to the cast and content to the plot line itself.
This is true of the journey I’ve had the honor of taking with the chamber. When I joined the chamber in 2006, I set out to meet and learn about the various organizations and individuals with whom I would, could or should interact. It was in those early days that I came to understand some of the long-standing and stubborn beliefs that to this day hamper our community. But more powerful and exciting were the individuals who had a true passion and commitment for this community and the basin at large. It was with these organizations and individuals I found common ground in that we all wanted to work toward a stronger economy that would enable families to enjoy a stable quality of life here. It was these partnerships that delivered the greatest impact during my 10 years as CEO of Tahoe Chamber.
Some of those individuals were board members who gave tirelessly of themselves, especially in the early days when we were navigating uncharted waters. As we grew, we added new programs in response to member feedback and simultaneously ceased doing several long-held traditional events as it became clear they had run their course. We understood it was vital to show value to members who had remained loyal through the merger, as well as those who were sitting it out on the sidelines waiting to see what this new CEO and board would do. Many of those who were “waiting to see” liked what they witnessed and joined our efforts.
As we strove to create an organization that was contemporary and professional, I worked hard to move the subject of the local economy into the forefront. Little did I foresee the magnitude of the effect of convening regional economic development experts for the first time. Those conversations combined with the recession arriving a year later, alongside the Regional Plan Update, led to broad and lasting changes. Today it pleases me greatly that the economy is no longer a dirty subject, rather an integral part of most local policymaking boards’ deliberations including TRPA, Cal Trans and NDOT. As Margaret Mead stated, never doubt the impact a small group of people can have. I wholeheartedly thank each of those early experts who were willing to forge new relationships, partnerships and territory in addition to the early adopters who recognized the importance of our collaborating on behalf of local residents’ wellbeing and the environment.
As the years passed, the chamber’s focus on the economy shifted from high-level regional work that could now be carried on by the newly formed Tahoe Prosperity Center into a new chapter of providing myriad services for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. These unprecedented services have been provided through the support of various entities and individuals including the City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, Douglas County, the Small Business Development Center, Small Business Administration and the Sierra Business Council. As a result of these free programs, entrepreneurs and business owners have access to very high quality workshops and one-on-one coaching as well as the most recent addition of a peer-to-peer program known as Entrepreneurs Assembly that is offered in partnership with its founders, Lake Tahoe Community College and Tahoe Mountain Lab. Hopefully these partnerships and programs will provide the foundation for more great things to come in the future as our community continues to expand its awareness and support of small businesses and entrepreneurs as the lifeblood of our community who provide the services we all rely upon on a daily basis.
Now the story of the chamber will soon be in the hands of a new CEO, who — together with the board — will write the next chapters. They will undoubtedly cease doing some of the events or programs created in the past 10 years as they address the needs of tomorrow’s business owners. The only thing that is certain is that those needs will change, and so too will the programs and services offered by Tahoe Chamber in the coming decade.
I, for one, am excited to watch the future growth and development of the chamber and wish my successor (still to be named) the fulfillment, growth, challenge and excitement that I experienced during my tenure. I’d also like to wholeheartedly thank current and past staff and board members as well as friends and partners for the lessons they’ve led me to and for the commitment they’ve each made to our community. It’s been a real pleasure and we all have much to be proud of.
And for me, the time has come to write my next chapter. I look forward to working with regional organizations and individuals in the coming years as I launch B Great Leadership with a focus on providing leadership coaching, retreat and meeting facilitation, project support and consulting services. Please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to stay in touch or want more information on my services.
“B” Gorman, J.D., B.S., A.C.E., is the former Tahoe Chamber CEO.