A week after he entertained tour guides from France, Jeff Parmer’s thoughts are dominated by Crescent City’s Fourth of July celebration.
Jeff Parmer has been hired as permanent director of the chamber and visitors bureau. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
The event is the area’s largest of the year, but the new executive director of the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau says he is also focused on better serving the chamber’s members.
“The main thing the chamber does is advocate for businesses, which are its members,” Parmer said. “Something I want to do is to reach out to our membership and find out what they would like out of the chamber. We want members to feel that they can contact me with their concerns or changes or recommendations.”
Parmer, who became executive director for the visitors bureau in October, took on the interim executive director position for the chamber in February. The chamber’s Board of Directors hired him on a permanent basis to oversee both entities April 26.
Before the board combined the positions, Parmer said the visitors bureau executive director had been an independent contractor paid by the chamber.
Parmer replaced Gina Zottola, who left the chamber last year to work for the Wild Rivers Community Foundation. Zottola served as executive director part time and also worked with Sutter Coast Hospital and the Del Norte Health District to recruit physicians to the area.
After Zottola left, the chamber Board of Directors decided to discontinue its physician recruitment and retention program and created a full-time executive director position for both the chamber and visitors bureau, said Board President John Menaugh.
“It was a difficult task because the two roles are very, very different,” Menaugh said. “In Jeff, the ability was already demonstrated. He could do the visitors bureau direction job very well and we felt confident that he could do the chamber of commerce side as well. It’s hard to find people who can do both.”
Parmer, who is originally from New Jersey, came to Del Norte County by way of Grants Pass, Ore., where he worked for the Daily Courier. He said he had been in Oregon, running the lodges at Crater Lake National Park and Oregon Caves National Monument, since the 1980s.
Parmer ventured across the California state line in 2005 to work as an advertising account manager for the Triplicate.
“The shoe’s on the other foot,” Parmer joked. “Now I’m the one who is placing ads instead of trying to sell them.”
In between organizing food vendors for the Fourth of July celebration and the annual Deck Party the night before, Parmer said he would like to expand the chamber’s membership to include cottage industry businesses. One example of a local cottage industry business is Avreal, which specializes in soaps, moisturizers and beauty products, he said.
Securing funding for the chamber’s visitors center and the visitors bureau is one of the chamber board’s goals, Menaugh said. Expanding the chamber’s membership will help in that regard, he said.
“We’re always looking for new members of the chamber as businesses change within the community,” he said. “I think cottage industries will be part of that change. It’s certainly something I’d like to see promoted as well.”
Parmer is tasked with organizing the chamber’s two main events, the Fourth of July celebration and Sea Cruise in October, which he says he already has a head-start on.
“We already have the registration forms printed,” he said Thursday, referring to Sea Cruise. “And Gary Petersen (president of the Northern Knights Car Club) received the first registration yesterday.”
The chamber is sponsoring a seminar Tuesday with Charlie Monahan, of the North Coast Small Business Development Center, Parmer said. Monahan will focus on small business start-ups and will discuss such strategies as crowd funding, collective efforts to support an individual’s project.
The seminar will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Del Norte County Unified School District offices at 301 Washington Blvd. Admission is free for chamber members and $10 for non-chamber members. Participants are asked to RSVP with the chamber by Monday.