Claremont Chamber Wants Full-Time Executive Director
Claremont — The Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce is searching for a new executive director and is returning the job to a full-time position for the first time since 2012.
Jamie Richardson, marketing manager at Claremont Savings Bank and president of the chamber’s board, said the business booster organization hopes to have a new head on board by the end of June, when it holds its annual board meeting. As reported, Kelly Murphy, an Ascutney-based consultant to nonprofit organizations, is serving as interim executive director.
In an interview with the Valley News, t he previous executive director, Melissa Richmond, said she was let go by the board in a disagreement over strategy.
Richmond led the chamber for a little more than two years.
The Claremont chamber, whose roots go back to the early 1920s, has operated with a part-time staff but again requires a full-time executive director who can “spend some time working with the board, volunteers and committee members” to help it become a better resource for the community, Richardson said.
Richardson declined to discuss what led to Richmond’s ouster.
“I am not going to comment on the previous regime,” she said. “My message is we are excited to move forward with a full-time director.”
Richardson said candidates for executive director must be “highly motivated and dedicated to the enhancement of the greater Claremont region,” which encompasses Claremont, Charlestown, Cornish, Lempster, Plainfield and Unity. The individual would have a “sales and event-planning mindset” and understand how the mission of chambers is changing now that technology has upended their longtime role of serving as an information resource and helping hand for small businesses.
Chambers of commerce “have been challenged over the last decade to evolve,” Richardson said.
“They used to be the lone resources of community information. They are no longer the lone resources.” At the same time, she said, chambers still are often the first place visitors and businesses consult when seeking information about an area.
Richardson declined to say how much the new full-time position would pay. Shelly Hudson, who headed the Greater Claremont chamber until she resigned in February 2012, earned $40,000 a year for a 40-hour workweek in 2011, according to the chamber’s 2011 filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
The chamber reported total revenue of $72,000 in 2013, the most recent year for which information is available, including $53,500 from membership dues and assessments, and ended the year with a positive fund balance of $9,000, according to its IRS filing. R ichmond, who joined the chamber in the early part of 2013, was paid $23,000 for a 20-hour work week that year, the filing shows. In 2012, the chamber reported total revenue of $71,000, including $45,000 in membership dues and assessments, and ended the year with a negative fund balance of nearly $4,000. The year prior, the chamber reported total revenue of $90,000, including membership dues and assessments of about $74,000, and also ended the year with a negative fund balance of $4,000.
The chamber’s membership has been level at about 140 in recent years, Richardson said.
Claremont is at least the fourth New Hampshire city or town during the past year to be seeking or to have appointed a new head for its chamber of commerce.
Chris Williams announced in February that he would step down in June as president of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce. Will Stewart was named president of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce last September. Michael Skelton was named chief executive of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce in May, and in November, Sean Ryan was appointed the new executive director of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
There are currently 35 local chambers of commerce in the state, according to the New Hampshire Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.