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Chamber of Commerce takes new direction for community in 2021

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

After a tumultuous 2020, the Roswell Chamber of Commerce is taking a new direction, signified by appointing its now-former chairwoman of the board of directors as its new staff leader and changing that position’s title.

Andrea Moore became chairwoman of the chamber’s board in July and added the duties of interim executive director when Candace Purcella resigned at the beginning of August.

Friday, Moore told the Roswell Daily Record the board had voted Thursday to make her Purcella’s replacement. The position has been retitled president and chief executive officer, a move Moore said reflects restructuring at chambers of commerce across the country.

Nic Snowberger, who was vice-chairman of the board, will now be the chairman, she said.

Additional changes that will be coming in the new year include a redesigned, more user-friendly website and a quarterly magazine that will replace the monthly newsletter. The first issue is expected in March and will be mailed to all residents of Chaves County, Administrative Director Elizabeth Morales said.

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Morales is the only employee that has remained on staff through a changeover that started a year ago when four employees resigned on the same day reportedly for various personal reasons.

In March, the chamber board notified the Roswell City Council it wanted to immediately terminate its business retention services contract with the city.

The contract that began in July 2018 allocated $76,700 a year to the chamber. The chamber also has a similar agreement with Chaves County for $57,500 that continues.

The City Council agreed to the termination with the requirement an audit of the chamber finances be conducted to account for the public funding the chamber has received. The chamber board agreed. That audit is now underway and should be completed by the end of March, according to both Moore and Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb.

By the time Purcella resigned at the beginning of August, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s public health order had brought shutdowns or restrictions of business and services across the state. The chamber, like many other organizations, found itself needing to change how it conducted business.

“I’ve told the board and the staff many times that in some ways the pandemic has been a blessing for the chamber because it has made us come out of our comfort zone of what we were doing in the past and how can we change and grow and help the community,” Moore said.

“And right now, I’m willing to help the community as a whole in any way, shape or form that we possibly can because without our community, the Roswell Chamber of Commerce isn’t going to exist,” she said.

Stepping into the day-to-day management of the chamber office and its staff wasn’t something Moore expected when she took over as chair of the board of directors, but she said she’s gotten a lot of help. Moore has also handled public relations for her family’s business, Krumland Auto Group.

“I am very lucky and very blessed that I have a family that is willing and ready to work with anything that I want to do. I haven’t worked inside the auto group on a daily basis for quite some time, so coming to the chamber and volunteering my services since August has not been an issue on that end,” she said.

The chamber has two other full-time employees and one part-time employee, and Moore credited them and their skills with helping the chamber make the needed changes.

Morales has a background in media and human resources. Liz Taylor, a former administrative director, returned after several years as the new membership director.

“She heard about the changes that were happening. She actually called myself and the board and asked if she could come back. She wanted to be a part of what was going on here,” Moore said.

Bryan Britton recently joined the staff as a customer service specialist and graphic design assistant.

Moore said the Roswell community and other chambers of commerce have also offered guidance.

“This is not necessarily my wheelhouse, a chamber executive, but the community has been phenomenal to help me learn what I need to do,” she said.

“Reaching out to other chambers around the state and around the nation to see what they do, what works, what doesn’t work has been really helpful as well,” she said.

Part of the process of reforming the chamber was to start asking questions, Moore said. For anyone who expresses interest in becoming involved with the chamber, Moore said they are asked three questions: What are we doing good, what are we doing bad and what do you want to see from us?

“It doesn’t matter what my vision is as the chairman or as the board what we collectively think that the chamber should be doing. At the end of the day, it’s what the community and our members want us to do, so we’re trying to make our pivot to what the community wants and needs, and not just have it be a singular vision on our end,” Moore said.

One of those changes is revamping its membership structure. The chamber has lost some members due to business closures, she said, but membership levels are close to what was reported at this time last year in the chamber’s annual report — 578 active members.

“We’re trying to work really hard with anybody that wants to continue to be a member, even if they don’t have the dollars at whatever level. In some cases, we have given them a discount to stay at the same membership level. We’ve also given them the option to come down in different membership levels,” she said.

The chamber is also expanding its services beyond its members. Its Shop Safe Shop Local holiday campaign included any business regardless of membership status.

“We let them participate as kind of a gesture on our end to show them that we are a brand-new chamber, that we are rebranding, we’re rebuilding,” she said.

A series of Dale Carnegie webinars will be offered to the general community as well for a small fee, and Moore said as pandemic restrictions ease, the chamber might offer services such as grant writing to non-members for a small fee.

Moore said it’s possible the chamber and the city of Roswell could form some kind of partnership again in the future. The city has not ruled that out either, as the council voted in August to direct City Manager Joe Neeb to re-establish a relationship with the organization.

“I believe that the city and the chamber can form a renewed partnership in the near future,” Neeb said. “The Roswell Chamber is an important part of the city’s partnership with the business community. The chamber strengthens our small businesses, the overall economy and helps give the business community a voice in decisions that affect their livelihood. Roswell will always seek ways to assist its business community and the board members serving on the chamber board have Roswell’s success always in focus.”

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.