Eagle Valley chamber director resigns
Eagle, CO, Colorado
EAGLE ” Jan Rosenthal Townsend knows she’s going to have more work to do. But not even she’s sure just how much.
Rosenthal Townsend and the other members of the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors are about to have more to do because Wednesday they accepted the resignation of executive director Tim Cochrane, who had held the job for about three weeks shy of 10 years.
Cochrane’s resignation was voluntary. Staring at a big drop in membership and revenue, he’d told the board in January he’d have to quit if the financial picture didn’t get better by March. He submitted his resignation letter Wednesday.
“We’re not the only chamber or nonprofit group affected,” said board president Steve Quiring, owner of Computer Services of Vail and Eagle. “But it’s a great loss.”
Just a couple of years ago, the Eagle Valley Chamber had hit a high point. Membership passed the 500 mark, putting it officially into the “mid-sized chamber” club.
Then Vail Resorts rolled out its Epic Pass. That, in effect, made discounted merchant passes irrelevant and took away the chamber’s biggest membership perk. Membership renewals dived.
When the local economy finally followed the national economy into the doldrums, renewals dropped even more.
“It’s nothing he did,” Quiring said. “We spent hours and hours in meetings trying to figure this out.”
Rosenthal Townsend is one of Cochrane’s biggest fans. She’s been a member of the group’s board for nine years, almost as long as Cochrane was the director. She’s quick to give him credit for several projects around town, including the recent downtown renovation the town of Eagle did a couple of years ago.
“That wouldn’t have happened without Tim,” she said.
Cochrane said he’s proud of the work he did as the chamber’s director, but is particularly happy that he was able to help put together a scholarship program for Eagle Valley High School graduates.
“We were able to award between $6,000 and $10,000 in scholarships every year,” Cochrane said. Those scholarships were given to the kids of local business owners.
“It was a way to give a little back to the business community,” he said.
That business community frequently had some very different opinions about the chamber’s direction. Eagle and Gypsum, in particular, often have different ideas about growth and development.
While Cochrane, an Eagle resident, said he’s a champion of that downtown area, he also gave credit to Gypsum for its ideas about business growth.
“Gypsum has set its own course,” Cochrane said. “And if you look at where the business growth has been in this first quarter, it’s been in Gypsum.”
Chamber board member Peter Struve, owner of Mac’s Liquor in Gypsum, acknowledged that Eagle and Gypsum businesses and officials don’t see eye to eye very often, and said it may be time to form separate merchant groups for each town.
“There’s a synergy in having Eagle and Gypsum combined,” Struve said. “Still, maybe it’s time for Gypsum to put a group together, but still have a relationship with the other group.”
The Eagle/Gypsum split has meant that Cochrane’s been careful not to seem as if he’s favoring one town over the other. That’s why he’s been careful to keep the chamber at large out of a recent effort to create and marketing and events board in Eagle.
Cochrane said he’ll continue helping with that effort, and will run it if asked. But, he added, that’s not why he resigned.
Asked if Cochrane’s resignation might lead to the breakup of the Eagle Valley chamber as it now exists, all the board members interviewed said they want the old group to continue.
“This chamber’s been around since 1933, and I’d hate to see the slumping economy be the end of it,” Quiring said. “But that’s up to the board and the membership.”
But, Rosenthal Townsend said, chamber members are going to have to show a level of commitment to the group they haven’t had to in the past.
“There’s been a lot of complacency because Tim’s done so much,” she said. “People need to get actively involved.”
Another meeting of Eagle business owners will be held March 12 from 1 ” 3 p.m. at Pastatively, next to Zach’s Deli in Eagle. The group is trying to find a way to create and fund a marketing plan for Eagle businesses. And yes, Tim Cochrane will be there.
1933: Year the Eagle Chamber of Commerce was founded.
1982: Year the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce was created.
500: Member businesses in 2007.
275: Member businesses today.
EVCC Board of Directors
Town of Eagle Trustees
Town of Gypsum Council
Eagle County Commissioners
Today I have the most difficult assignment ever tasked as the President/CEO of the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce.
After almost 10 years (April 1) I have had the pleasure of managing the day to day affairs of the EVCC. We have grown to a high of 505 plus members in 2007, worked with both Towns and the County to improve our economy, and have stood fast as the voice of business to local government. Our accomplishments are many.
However, due to the low renewals of membership, the National economy virtually stopping the construction industry, we find ourselves in dire striates.
On Jan. 5th 2009 I sent my Presidents report stating the facts that we as the EVCC had no choice but to severely cut our expenses and of course improve our cash flow. The Board gave their full support to follow the plan outlined. For the past 2 months we have done just that. Restructuring our dues schedule to better reflect the current economy. Maintaining our presence by advocating a unified marketing group in Eagle,
Cut all expenses until none were left.
In that Jan. memo I also stated that the restructuring would have to include the Chamber’s President/CEO position be suspended. That I fully understood that meant my employment would end in March 09.
So today I am announcing my resignation as President/CEO of the Eagle Valley Chamber. Effective today all day to day operations will be the responsibility of the Board of Directors. I have enjoyed my years at the helm, I have pledged my total support to the future of the EVCC. I thank all of you for your support and for the work each has done to promote our community.
I stand proud of the difference the Chamber has made. I ask that everyone continue their support of the EVCC as it goes through these difficult times.