Beleaguered chamber of commerce seeking to rebuild
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce has been without a paid president/CEO for one year now, and without a full paid staff for nearly one year.
Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce interim president/CEO Nancy Nelson has been at the lead for the chamber’s events and activities and has been making presentations to the Copperas Cove city council to receive funding and reimbursement for tourism operations and events. Her efforts have been done on a volunteer basis.
The chamber submits requests to the city council annually for allocations of the city’s hotel occupancy fund dollars, to the tune of more than $100,000 per year, to hold activities such as Rabbit Fest and Krist Kindl Markt, but the bulk of those funds go to funding the chamber’s staff, operating expenses and overhead where tourism for the City of Copperas Cove is concerned.
After not making a report in one year for these activities and operations – and being out of compliance with their marketing agreement with the City of Copperas Cove, the chamber has been under scrutiny by the council. It has received a mixture of support and what councilmember Fred Chavez called “tough love” at the most recent city council meeting. The chamber had presented a report in October 2021, but nothing until October 2022, when Nelson made a report to the council in her interim role after the former president/CEO resigned in the summer of 2022.
Councilmember Vonya Hart pointed out on Tuesday evening that Nelson and only a few other board members were present at Tuesday’s meeting, during which Nelson was asking the council to authorize the chamber to submit for reimbursement of funds from the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 fiscal years.
“I know back in February, I was very concerned because I’ve seen you out there and I did request more board participation. It shouldn’t have been on you,” Hart told Nelson, referring to the council’s retreat in February when discussions were had about the chamber and its lag in reporting to the city for its events and tourism operations.
“Once that was said, it seems like everybody suddenly dropped off. I don’t know if that had to do with anything about the meeting back in May to try to find some resolution. I just find it just disheartening that that happened. In October last year, you were in a certain situation and that there was compassion during that time…I guess I’m searching for more of an explanation of why,” Hart told Nelson on Tuesday.
Hart questioned why if there are eight board members, there were not more board members there on behalf of the chamber requesting funds.
Nelson did not offer an explanation at that time during the meeting, but told Hart she was under the impression that reports had to be complete prior to being brought to council.
At Tuesday evening’s Copperas Cove city council meeting, Nelson also told the council that the chamber will be rebuilding its board.
“We have had two individuals with interest, but their resumes will be submitted to the committee,” she confirmed to the Leader-Press on Thursday morning.
The chamber currently has eight seated board members, and will soon be opening up the submission of resumes for those who are interested in serving on the board.
Potential board members for the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce must be employed by or own a business that is currently an “active” dues-paying member of the chamber.
Nelson said on Thursday that the current seated board recently updated and passed new bylaws.
“We will be opening applications for more board members after completing our nomination committee which has been initiated but not completed yet.”
After the chamber opens the nominations and receives resumes, the nomination committee will vet viable board members and then the list of nominees will be sent to all current chamber members to vote for.
As far as who will take over the reins as a paid president/CEO of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, the chamber has had the position posted on Indeed, which is the only place the chamber has posted the position, Nelson said.
“We plan to close it after 10 days posted,” she added. “We will narrow to viable candidates and begin the interview process.”
The full-time position has a posted starting salary of $34,000.
The chamber has had a paid membership director since October 2022.