St. George Area Chamber of Commerce begins search for new executive director

St. George City as seen from the Dixie Rock/Sugarloaf formation at Pioneer Park, St. George, Utah, July 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The St. George Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has begun a nationwide search for a new executive director to fill the shoes of the outgoing president and CEO, Pam Palermo.

According to the chamber, there has already been a large amount of interest in the position.

Although not involved in the selection process, Palermo said one of the most important qualities the board may consider when deciding on a new director is involvement in the community.

“Everything they do should be in the best interest of St. George and its businesses,” she said. “Collaboration with the county, with the city, with the universities, tech schools and county schools. Collaboration is huge.”

It’s not as important, Palermo said, that candidates are from the area, but what is important is the ability to build bridges and maintain the relationships that have already been established.

The chamber is looking for someone with strong leadership ability.

Pam Palermo, president and CEO of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce, addresses a crowd in St. George, Utah, March 23, 2017. Palermo is stepping down as president of the chamber in January 2020. | File photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“It would be great to have someone who has been involved in a chamber or possess transferable skills,” Palermo said.

Although St. George is no longer the fast-growing city in the nation, now standing at No. 3, according to U.S. News & World Report, it still enjoys a healthy business atmosphere; however, there are challenges to the growth.

“It’s the biggest challenge to the entire county is the fact that we are growing so fast,” Palermo said. “But, the city, our mayor and City Council do an excellent job at managing the growth.”

In April, St. George was ranked second-best small city in the U.S. to start a business by WalletHub. More than 1,200 cities with a population of less than 100,000 were evaluated based on business costs, overall business environment and access to resources.

“This has to do will all of the infrastructure we have here,” Palermo said.

One component of the new director’s responsibilities will be a focus on economic development.

“For me, economic gardening, or economic organic growth, is one of the most important things,” Palermo said. “We have more than 5,800 businesses in Washington County and more than 4,800 have less than nine employees. By attracting entrepreneurial businesses, you don’t change the culture much.”

Growth from within would maintain and support St. George’s small community feel, Palermo added.

The board would like to make a final decision on hiring a candidate as director by December, prior to Palermo’s departure on Jan. 18, 2020.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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