Tina Bruess said she hit the ground running when she took the reins as executive director of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce in January.
"It's been fast paced," Bruess said. "That's good. It shows a strong and viable chamber."
Now, after almost three months on the job, Bruess said, "I finally feel like my feet have hit the ground. I have a phenomenal board, staff and volunteers who have made the transition easy."
During her first months on the job, Bruess, the chamber board, staff and volunteers have been working toward a variety of goals, she said. Among their efforts have been to:
- Increase open communication with everyone;
- Have higher visibility;
- Increase membership numbers;
- Develop a team-based approach within the region and with the town, the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation, Main Street and other organizations.
"A more cohesive team is needed," Bruess said. "You get a lot more done with a group than with a single individual working alone."
To increase membership, Bruess said her team has been extolling the benefits of the chamber to local businesses.
"The chamber is a resource and partner for businesses in the community," she said. "It is here to help them succeed, and when our businesses succeed, we all succeed. If we don't have the resources to help in-house, we'll find them."
On the event front at the chamber, Bruess said it is continuing its support of local events such as the Business Showcase, the Strawberry Festival and the August Rodeo.
"We need to keep them strong and viable," Bruess said. "We also need to do what we can to bring other (events) to town, such as the mountain bike race, the parks and recreation programs and anything else we can do."
She said the chamber board is looking into adding events to make the celebration of the August Rodeo a week-long affair. Bruess said a decision will be made about the other events within the next few months in order to have them in place for the 2004 rodeo.
"A lot of longtime residents have asked about bringing back some of the old festivals," Bruess said. "So, we are looking into why they are not here anymore and either bringing them back or developing replacements."
Another issue Bruess and her board are dealing with is the need for a larger facility."Better parking is needed and the county needs space too," Bruess said.
Her work for the chamber has not been confined to Payson. She said she recently attended a meeting of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce which hosted Gov. Janet Napolitano and her staff.
"The focus was on rural issues, including economic development in rural areas," Bruess said. "The governor's office has promised to provide support to help tourism efforts, forest health, education and unemployment insurance. The tourism and commerce departments are going to take a much more active role in helping rural Arizona by allocating more staff and possibly developing new grants for small communities. They are going to be looking at something other than Maricopa County."
She said she has an open-door policy for the whole community and encourages residents and business owners to find out more about the chamber.
The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, call (928) 474-4515.