Friday, March 4, 2011

Chamber Leader Joins Senator’s Staff

By Molly McCoy
Staff Columnist
Jeff Pelkey, Chairman of the Board of the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce, announced recently that Cathy Goodwin, Chamber President, has accepted a job with U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins as her state office representative for York County. Ms. Goodwin has led the Chamber for 15 years.
“While we are certainly going to miss Cathy, the board is very pleased that she will be taking on this new role with the Senator,” said Pelkey. “Cathy has grown our chamber into becoming a strong advocate and voice for businesses in southern Maine. We believe her new job with the Senator will only expand and strengthen the linkage between local businesses and our federal government.”
“It’s a mixed blessing,” said Ms. Goodwin, when asked about her new position. “I’ve had a long-term relationship with the [Greater York Region] Chamber, and I was President of the Kittery Chamber for two years prior to that. There is a lot of history.”
Despite the change of occupation, Ms. Goodwin is optimistic about taking that history with her.
“That’s the good part about my new job,” said Goodwin. “I was hired precisely because I have these relationships, and I plan to continue to nourish those relationships and be as helpful as I can to the Senator’s office.”
To say that the Greater York Region Chamber has grown under Ms. Goodwin’s watchful eye would be an understatement. When Goodwin arrived in York as President, there were only two full-time employees, and the Chamber had opened their new building off of Route 1 just two years prior to her coming onboard.
“We didn’t even have a fax machine,” says Goodwin. “Now, we’ve grown the Chamber into the web world. It’s hard to believe that people thought it was just going to be a short-term thing, but now we know it’s hugely important.”
Other big changes under Goodwin’s presidency have included the official purchasing of the Welcome Center land at fair market value, securing their four-acre presence for years to come. In addition, Goodwin has seen her members come together to maintain that building with “huge donations of time, talent and money,” to accommodate the more than 90,000 visitors they see every year – half of which arrive during the three summer months alone.
“We continually have to ask ourselves how we stay relevant to our members,” said Goodwin, referencing the redesigning of the Chamber website as one of many updates necessary to appropriately represent the organization.
“We started the Farmers’ Market before that was a trend, and now we have one of the largest summer markets in Southern Maine,” said Goodwin. “HarvestFest is in its 27th year, and I’ve been around for fifteen of those. It’s been a long, long time.”
In addition to her role as President, Ms. Goodwin has co-chaired a bi-state committee to save the Kittery Shipyard, and worked on committees to manage the Memorial Bridge Project, among other causes.
“I’ve had an active job, an active role,” said Goodwin.
Clearly, her presence has been felt throughout York County over the past 15 years, and her friends and colleagues can look to continue their relationships with Ms. Goodwin, who will soon be working in the Senator’s Biddeford office.
The Chamber Board of Directors has been in a strategic planning process for the past several months. They do not expect to replace Ms. Goodwin until their planning process is completed, at which point a search committee will be formed to fill the position. Holly Roberts, the Chamber’s current business manager, has been appointed Interim Manager for the Chamber.
For more information, contact Mr. Pelkey at 207-439-4900.
Photo caption: Cathy Goodwin, the President of the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce, has accepted a job with U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins. (Courtesy photo)