New chamber president gets to work, looks ahead
By LYNETTE SOWELL
New Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Sean Corrigan has hit the ground running during his first week at the chamber offices, starting a new period of leadership at Copperas Cove's “front door to the city.”
Corrigan first began working in the chamber of commerce industry in Texas not long after college in the early 90s, he said. He went on to become the executive director of the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives, a position which gave him a bird's eye view of chambers of commerce across the state of Texas.
For the last 10 years, Corrigan has also worked with CommunityLink, a chamber publishing company which produces relocation and visitors' guides for cities throughout Texas. Corrigan has published the Temple Chamber of Commerce's directory, knows the Killeen Chamber president, John Crutchfield, and is also well acquainted with the Central Texas area, one of the reasons he applied to be president of the Copperas Cove Chamber.
As the prior executive director of the TCCE, he visited with chamber members in different Texas communities, to hear from them what worked—and didn't work—at other chambers.
“You learn a lot,” he said, of visiting face-to-face with business owners. A universal issue Corrigan said he's heard over the years from chamber members across Texas is that after paying their annual dues, “(the chamber office) doesn't contact us unless they want money.”
Corrigan said a successful chamber is interactive with its members and that the role of every chamber is to have a positive impact in a community.
“Even if you had 200 hours a week, there wouldn't be enough time,” Corrigan said, adding that it's important to differentiate between the “politics” of a community and the mission statement of a chamber of commerce.
“I've seen people in a chamber role get sidetracked,” Corrigan said. “Often the first place people go in a community is the chamber, and sometimes you have to say no.” For example, when Hurricanes Katrina and Ike impacted Texas Gulf Coast communities, some thought the chambers of commerce should start fund raising to help the chambers of commerce in those coastal areas. But Corrigan said no, that it wasn't the role of other Texas chambers to do that.
“It's tough to say no,” he added.
In Copperas Cove, Corrigan sees a lot of opportunities and room for growth. If the upcoming liquor option on the November ballot passes, Corrigan sees that as a plus and looks for more restaurants to come to Copperas Cove as a result.
One of the big things Corrigan plans to do very soon is personally visit each chamber member and present them with something that might seem small—a new chamber of commerce window sticker which includes the year 2016. To him, it's important to acknowledge the current members for their continued support.
At the chamber office itself, there have been a few changes in job titles of the staff, Gina Castillo, Director of Events & Programs; Donna Herring, Office Manager: and Maurice “Mo” Tobin, Special Projects Coordinator. He said they are looking for someone part-time in a bookkeeping/accounting role.
Corrigan has a list of goals in mind and he expects it'll take a year for him to get settled into the position and all it entails. Among those goals are to craft a strategic plan for the chamber, have a bylaws update, revise the mission statement, and evaluate the chamber's branding, to include the logo.