New chamber president hosts his first membership luncheon, shares ‘innovative’ plans for future

Don Willie, the new president and CEO of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce is tracking a host of bills making their way through the 2020 legislative session. St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2020 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Many members of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce had the opportunity to meet the new president and CEO of the organization on Wednesday.

Don Willie greeted the more than 160 members who attended an afternoon luncheon at the Atwood Innovation Plaza.

It has only been nine days since he took the helm at the chamber.

“It’s been really good,” Willie said. “As you know, the chamber has its hands in everything and we are adding some additional programs. I am asking more of our staff so that our members are getting value out of their membership.”

Following the luncheon, Willie presented his vision for 2020 and a look back at 2019.

The foundation has been laid to continue to grow and strengthen the chamber’s resolve to support the area’s business community, to be a voice for that community and to take this organization to the next level, he said.

West began by acknowledging the work the chamber’s staff and its board of directors have put in to refocus its brand and setting the vision for the future.

Don Willie met with more than 160 chamber members Wednesday during the 2020 state of the chamber luncheon. St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2020 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News

“The chamber is a hub for meaningful growth for individual businesses in the St. George area,” Willie said. “We are built on the principle that a strong community is built upon a connected framework of thriving businesses.”

The framework, Willie added, is strengthened through the chamber’s mission of providing business with guidance, relationships and opportunities.

“We are focusing on (businesses),” Willie said. “We are focusing on your success. That is what matters to us at the chamber of commerce.”

Willie has plans for some “wonderful” changes this year. They include redoubling efforts to increase attendance at “business after hours” events, a refresh of the chamber’s website, the addition of a jobs board, an increase in social media visibility and developing more strategic partnerships.

“It’s 2020, we’re here,” Willie said. “It’s going to be an exciting year for us.”

Chamber member Elise West said with any new president comes “new and fresh” ideas. Not to take away from anything former president and CEO Pam Palermo did, but as a friend, West has complete faith that Willie will bring wonderful things to the St. George area.

“The word that comes to mind is innovative,” West said. “He kind of brings a new vibrancy to the chamber, so I’m excited.”

Chamber member Barb Jones is also excited about what Willie will bring.

“I think he is a mover and a shaker in a good way,” Jones said. “He is very innovative and has a great business background. I think he is going to do great things.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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