Exeter Chamber address directors departure, highlight achievements

Tulare County District Supervisor Larry Micari speaks at the Exeter Chamber Summit.(Kenny Goodman)

Exeter Chamber of Commerce declines to comment on future direction, services during annual meeting, state of the local economy report

EXETER – Around 100 business and government leaders gathered at the Exeter Veterans Memorial Building to reflect on the state of the local economy and their accomplishments from the past year.

As part of its annual meeting on Aug. 11, the Exeter Chamber of Commerce briefly addressed its future after the board of directors decided to part ways with chamber CEO Tina Rice just last week. Board of directors member Bob Mayo said that while the separation from Rice has put “a little wrinkle in what we’re doing,” the rest of the chamber’s office staff has worked to keep everything running as it should.

“It was a tough decision,” Mayo said. “It was something that, as a board, we continue to reflect on and look at … we decided, though, that in order to best serve our community, we needed to make some changes.”

Mayo said that Rice did a good job for the chamber and they thank her for the time and energy that she put in, “but as all of our business partners know, there’s times that we have to make different directions and different changes for the better of the organization.”

However, the mentioned changes were not addressed at the summit. There was no comment from the board on what direction and/or philosophy the chamber will take going forward. Board president Shawna Lamarsh said the remarks provided at the meeting are the only comment the board will be giving on the chamber’s future without Rice.

Aside from Mayo’s remarks at the meeting, Lamarsh and other members of the board also refused to comment on the state of current services, the introduction of new services, fundraisers or events.

Mayo provided only that the chamber will be going in a “different direction,” and the board of directors will be “taking a look at exactly what is the structure” in the chamber office before determining what type of new, full-time position they will hire.

“We are happy with our staff that are currently there (at the chamber) and helping out and filling that gap and that void,” Mayo said. “I think that when we have that stability, even in the absence of somebody, we’re able to still maintain the good solid work that our community deserves, and that’s what we want to continue doing.”

The chamber maintained and amassed 274 members, including 51 new members who joined in the last year, Mayo said. He also highlighted the chamber’s social media activity and said they have reached 71,000 engagements through Facebook and 27,000 engagements through Instagram over the past year.

“That is just a wonderful reflection of the work (businesses are) doing,” Mayo said.

Exeter City Administrator Adam Ennis, Tulare County District 1 Supervisor Larry Micari, State Assemblyman Vince Fong and a representative from Rep. Jim Costa’s office also spoke at the meeting to share information on issues facing the region and ways to engage with the government at different levels.

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