By Kelley Atherton
The Crescent City/Del Norte Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new executive director.
However, current Executive Director Reweti Wiki said he isn't going anywherehe'll just have a new job description.
The Board of Directors is looking to hire a new executive director to focus more on physician recruitment and retention. Part of the job duties will also be running the chamber, planning events and promoting local businesses.
Sutter Coast Hospital and the Del Norte Healthcare District have offered $26,000 apiece to help fund the new executive director position, since that person will be working toward bringing physicians to the area.
Wiki's new position will involve mobilizing Action Del Norte and community development while working with non-profit foundations (such as the Ford Foundation, which visited several months ago) to procure funding.
"What really needs to happen is that the chamber needs to focus on the chamber," Wiki said about the new executive director and himself working on the range of projects the chamber is involved in.
The chamber initiated Action Del Norte last year, which Chamber President Grant Scholes explained covers a broad spectrum of community issues.
"We wanted to look at the community as a whole," Scholes said. "One part was economic development, another industry clusters, but we also wanted to develop the community itself and maintain the chamber of commerce."
A lot of issues arose out of Action Del Norte meetings, such as physician recruitment and retention, economic development and beautification. All of these community concerns became too much for one executive director to handle, he said.
"We were grappling with how to be operational with all of this with one executive director," Scholes said. "(Wiki) was getting spread thin. We're making a lot of progress, but it's a lot of things to juggle."
A significant part of his job, Wiki said, will be to develop and coordinate relationships between local governments and outside organizations like the Ford Foundation, which could provide grant money to the county.
"There was a huge amount of interest outside of the county," Wiki said, speaking about non-profit organizations. "We were sort of like a deer in the headlights. What we need is someone to coordinate those efforts."
Along with figuring out the chamber's structure, the board came up with a venn diagram (two or more intersecting circles) that show how the relationships between the chamber, the Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority and philanthropy come together to form Action Del Norte.
Wiki said that like the EDA's plan to hire an executive director specifically for economic development, the chamber needs someone similar for community development. When an organization like the Ford Foundation is interested in Del Norte County, there needs to be someone ready to work with them, he said.
"Right now we need someone to answer that door when (interested parties) knock," Wiki said.
The Tri-Agency board, made up of representatives of the city, county and harbor governments, recently decided that the EDA should be the economic development driver of the community. This took one thing off the chamber's plate, Scholes said.
It was a "natural progression" for the EDA to take over economic development, Wiki said. Roles are more defined now, he said, but the chamber and its partners are working toward the same goal to make Del Norte's economy boom.
"I'm feeling good because I think the chamber is meeting expectations and properly putting resources where they need to be," Wiki said. "To do a good job at many things rather than one or two things."
The logistics are still being worked out, Wiki said, and his new job doesn't have a title yet. Scholes said the board elected Friday to put an ad in The Daily Triplicate and at the chamber office to make sure executive director applicants are local.
"We need someone who knows what's going on," Scholes said about keeping the applicant pool local so that the director can promote the community to physicians and plan events. "(Someone) well versed in our community who lives here and has a good life here. Someone who's never lived here may not be as aware."