New director onboard

Iwant to applaud Elizabeth Peterson and the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce Board for the hard work they have done over the past few years to build the Chamber.

They have obtained over 230 members, created successful fundraising events, and opened up communication among businesses with the Chamber Enquirer, Business After Hours and Ribbon Cuttings.

To start something from scratch is infinitely more difficult than building on previous successes and this is not lost on me. These are big shoes to fill, their work has been vital to getting the GINCC to where it is today and I am honored to join this group of hard working community members.

As I sat across from a few of these hard working community members explaining why I was interested in becoming the executive director I was asked two questions: 1) how would I describe myself, and 2) how would other people describe me? It was a very straightforward question, but not one that I was expecting. I had spent most of my time preparing to talk about my work, education and experience, which is quite different than who I am.

So how do I think of myself? Well, at my core I’m just a N.I.C.E. girl who married a Negaunee boy. We decided to keep this place our home and where we wanted to raise our children: shop here, play here, live here. For me, it really is that simple.

As for how other people would describe me – that was a little harder. I’m a wife and a mother. I’m also a business woman, a grant writer and a Zontian. I research, I plan, I fundraise. I’ve been known to tell a good story or two and can play a decent second base in softball.

Through this litany of adjectives there were two that I hoped most people would use to describe me. I listen and I work hard.

It is my hope that I can do both of these for you- for the chamber members looking to grow their businesses, those looking to join or start their business, and my friends and neighbors who want to see our area flourish.

This means helping you with business development, increasing tourism, and helping our community come together in a way that we all know it can: as a home.

I was reminded this during the last two weeks, watching the amazing work of the Fourth of July Committees and the Irontown Association as they executed the events surrounding one of my favorite holidays.

I smiled at the children dancing to the Blue Notes as I once did, I cheered for the graduated classes coming together to play in the annual alumni games, I rode in the parades that I have always watched. I saw friends, who have since moved to town and cities far away, return home.

As I begin this new adventure with you and descend into what I now call “Mud Plunge Madness” I want you to know that I will be taking the time over the next few months to meet with you, listen to your stories and hear what you would like to see happen with our home.

I encourage you to visit the chamber office, stop by the Hilltop RV Business After Hours on July 24, register or volunteer for the Mud Plunge, or even chat with me as I’m out and about.

I look forward to listening to what you need and working hard to get us there.

Editor’s note: Kori Tossava is director of the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce.