Our view: Exodus suggests opportunity | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Exodus suggests opportunity

At issue

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Jim Clark has resigned after 25 months at the organization's helm

Our view

Clark’s exodus presents an opportunity for the chamber board to select a leader who can lead the city forward and foster the advancement of younger local leaders

On Nov. 22, Steamboat Springs Resort Association CEO Jim Clark, who had been at his post a little more than two years, tendered his resignation.

Our view

Clark’s exodus presents an opportunity for the chamber board to select a leader who can lead the city forward and foster the advancement of younger local leaders

We would be remiss if we neglected to acknowledge Clark’s contributions during his relatively short tenure at the helm of the chamber. He was instrumental in convincing Steamboat’s lodging community to partner with DestiMetrics to collect more data about Steamboat’s visitors, and he embraced community involvement, devoting his time, voice and expertise to service on multiple local boards, including Routt County United Way, Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs and Colorado Association of Destination Management Organizations.

We appreciate Clark’s service and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

However, his abrupt exodus has left a vacuum at the top of one of our most important economic organizations and thrown the chamber board — for the third time in the past half-decade — into the process of identifying, vetting and recruiting a new leader.

This situation could be viewed in two ways — as another setback or as an emergent opportunity.

We choose to see it as the latter.

In July 2014, shortly after Clark’s predecessor, Tom Kern, announced his own resignation, we editorialized about what the chamber board might look for in recruiting a CEO, summarizing that the new chamber chief should, in short, be an individual who could “work for dozens of bosses simultaneously while moving forward on multiple initiatives.”

That basic view has not changed in the intervening two-and-a-half years. In our opinion, the board should again focus its search on identifying an individual who can bring the business community together, collaborate with a plethora of groups representing a broad range of interests, work successfully with a large and diverse board, balance the development and maintenance of a thriving tourist industry with the everyday concerns of residents and develop a personal relationship with tourists and locals alike by building upon the chamber’s commitment to service excellence.

We suspect that, as in the past, the board will undertake this recruitment task by way of a national search, and we don’t discourage that approach. The importance of the chamber’s work cannot be overstated, and it is imperative that the chamber identify and recruit the most qualified candidate it can find to serve as its leader.

At the same time, however, we would encourage the board to take its time and not overlook the possibility of recruiting a qualified local candidate, a person with an intimate knowledge of mountain resort economies, in general, and of Steamboat’s situation, specifically — perhaps a rising younger leader who would have the perspective to put fresh eyes on old concerns.

Fortunately, the board is entering this important process with time on its side. Kara Stoller, current chamber marketing director, is serving as interim CEO as the search for Clark’s replacement gets underway, and based upon her track record, we’re confident she is more than up to the task of guiding the chamber through this time of transition.

With a very capable interim director in place, now might be a good time for the board to embark on a bit of soul searching to determine why the past two directors didn’t work out, then take its time in recruiting the ideal candidate for the job.

Given the myriad economic issues that face us going into the future — the challenges of affordable housing, the quest to remain viable in an increasingly competitive resort market and the need for reliable broadband service in the valley, to name a few — having the right person in the role of chamber director is now more crucial than ever. That person is out there.

We hope the board will invest the time and effort necessary to find and recruit that person.

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