Chamber’s new CEO to focus on strategy

GLOVERSVILLE – The president of the newly merged Fulton and Montgomery county chambers of commerce says he will focus on developing a strategic plan for the organization.

The Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors named Mark Kilmer president and CEO after a nationwide search, the chamber announced over the weekend.

Kilmer has served as interim president of the new chamber since September.

In a news release, Kilmer said, “One of my priorities over the next few months will be to develop a two- to three-year strategic plan for the chamber. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to build, along with chamber staff and the Board of Directors, the best business organization in the region supporting our members and their businesses. I look forward to taking this chamber into a new era, providing our business community with an even stronger voice, and helping our region become stronger economically and more business friendly.”

Since the chambers have merged into a regional chamber, it will look to have a bigger role in advocacy and be more involved in governmental affairs, business and economic development, Kilmer said.

“We have to redefine ourselves, and I am going to take the next several months, along with the team at the chamber and board members, to try to put together a plan of where we want to head with the chamber and how we want to go about making us a stronger regional chamber,” Kilmer said this morning.

Kilmer said the new chamber will increase its effort to reach out to the smaller communities on the fringes of the two counties.

In the news release, chamber Board of Directors Co-Chairwoman Terri Easterly said of Kilmer’s appointment, “Mark has shown exceptional dedication and commitment through his tenure as our chamber’s interim president. He has been instrumental in helping the Board of Directors, the chamber staff and our members through the legal process of merging the two organizations into one entity.”

Brennen Parker, co-chairman of the chamber board, said in the release, “We are confident Mark and his team of Becky Dutcher, Michele Marotta, Sharon Jenkins, Shelley DiBlasio, Jen Georgelos, Gina DaBiere-Gibbs and Michele Marzullo will take this new organization to the regional level our members are striving for.”

Parker also said, “I am excited about what Mark’s leadership means to this new organization. He has already shown us that he has a strong work ethic, excitement and commitment to our member businesses, and we feel he will have a profound impact on the new chamber.”?

The recruiting process for a new chamber president included a nationwide search led by a search committee. The committee members included chairman Dustin Swanger, president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College, and members of the chamber Board of Directors and its executive committee.

Kilmer said the combined chamber has about 1,100 members, with approximately 700 coming from Fulton County and 400 from Montgomery County.

He said about 150 members were “dual” members of both former chambers.

He said the typical dues can range from $245 to $1,184?per year, depending on the business’s number of employees.

Since the merger, the rate has either stayed the same or gone down for members with dual status, Kilmer said.

“We have taken our dual members and put them into one category, which is much less expensive for them now,” Kilmer said.

However, he said there has been a $10 increase for Montgomery County members because the former Montgomery County chamber charged a little less than Fulton County’s chamber.

Kilmer had been involved with the Fulton County chamber for more than two decades. Most recently, he served on the chamber Board of Directors until January 2012 and had been the treasurer of the Board of Directors for more than a decade. Before that, he also served on the Fulton County chamber Board of Directors in the 1990s. He served as the board chairman in 1995 and 1996.

His community service includes serving as vice chairman of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth and a board member of the Crossroads Incubator Corp. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Mountain Valley Hospice and the Gloversville Economic Development Corp., and is president of the Fulton County Mineral Club and vice president of the Capital District Mineral Club. He is chief karate instructor at the Fulton County YMCA/Kai Do San Sport Karate.

Kilmer is a resident of Johnstown and an alumnus of Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Kilmer would not disclose his new annual salary.

Among Kilmer’s accomplishments during his tenure as interim president was organizing the recent retreat for the chamber Board of Directors, realigning and merging the staffs of both chambers of commerce, establishing strong relationships with members, and developing and maintaining beneficial contacts with local and state organizations and elected officials, according to the news release.

Kilmer will be introduced formally to the chamber membership at the chamber’s annual dinner Jan. 18 at St. Mary’s Institute in Amsterdam, the news release said.

The only step left for finalization of the merger is sending paperwork to the Department of State, which will certify the corporate name, Kilmer said.

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