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Chamber of Commerce announce hire of new representative

by ROSE SHABABY
Staff Writer | June 17, 2021 1:00 AM

Chamber representative Nancy Croll has stepped down from the position to spend more time with her family, according to Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce officials.

Croll served as the chamber rep for 18 months and was a “passionate business owner advocate” during her tenure, said Patti Solt, chamber vice president.

While the board was initially concerned about finding a replacement, treasurer Wendy Hawks happened to be having lunch with Jessica Kimball when she heard the news. Since she knew the Bonners Ferry native had the exact experience needed for the position, it seemed only natural to ask if she’d be interested in the position.

“It was perfect timing,” Hawks said.

Kimball joins the team with 10 years of marketing experience.

The chamber representative is kind of a jack of all trades; they actively recruit new members, welcoming them, coordinating ribbon cuttings for new businesses. The representative also helps out with all chamber events, maintaining customer relations with members, working with social media and the chamber website, keeping the community apprised of any business relocations and much more.

“The chamber is a really fun organization,” Jennifer Van Etten, chamber president, said. “I think we try to bring a lot to the community and help our local businesses. That’s our main goal.”

Hawks and Solt agreed that Kimball is a good fit for the organization.

“[Kimball] has hit the ground running,” Van Etten said. “In the first 24 hours she’s brought in new members, gotten new referrals, gotten us an Instagram account [and] right out the gate just was running with new ideas. If she keeps up that momentum, I just can imagine where we’re going to be this time next year.”

The chamber also welcomed three new board members: Samantha Shutts with Edward Jones, Shelly Kramer with Sugar Plum and Jennifer Wright with the Bonners Ferry Herald. Board leaders are excited to find out what the new members will bring to the table.

“We’re always looking for new ideas, sponsors and volunteers,” Van Etten said.

Van Etten added the organization has a chamber ambassador program for people who want to be part of the chamber but not really a full board member.” Chamber ambassadors don’t have to attend all the board meetings or attend all the networking [events]. They don’t get a vote but yet they can come with an idea like Hometown Holidays and they can help chair that event with the backing of the chamber, she said.

Board members said they are eager to bring more activities and events to the community. All three grew up in the area and enjoyed Kootenai River Days as children. It seemed like the end of an era when the event was canceled so when they joined the chamber, they knew they wanted to bring it back.

While it has grown in recent years, Van Etten acknowledges that “we’ll never get it back” to what it once was. Solt added that they’ve added new events to replace some of the old ones like the log races, which could no longer be held due to liability issues. Still, each year they’ve tried to add more activities to the event and they invite anyone in the community with ideas to contribute.

In the meantime, they want the Bonners Ferry community to look for Kimball around town, as she will be in and out saying "hi" and doing everything she can to support local businesses and they hope everyone will offer her a warm welcome.

If you have any questions or would like to contact the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce, you can go to https://bonnersferrychamber.org/ or call 208-290-1143.