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Saranac Lake chamber of commerce, North Elba board meet

August 16, 2012
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

LAKE PLACID - Members of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce met with the North Elba Town Council on Tuesday in an effort to increase the group's visibility and improve the lines of communication with local officials.

Craig Stevens, president of the chamber's Board of Directors, and board member Nicole Brownell, co-owner of Gauthier's Saranac Lake Inn, told council members the chamber is on the right path.

"It's not a secret that we've been in a bit of disarray since our executive director left in mid-May," Stevens said. "We've been regrouping, retooling and redefining our role for the Saranac Lake area."

Article Photos

North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi, right, reviews a copy of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s strategic plan on Tuesday while Craig Stevens, president of the chamber’s Board of Directors, discusses the group’s efforts to rebuild and redefine itself.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)

The chamber gets rent-free office space at the North Elba Town House on River Street. Stevens said the town is an important chamber partner, and his board wants to keep council members in the loop.

Stevens said the chamber has a strategic plan that addresses some of the organization's goals.

"More focus is going to be on member benefits and member services," he said, "that being workshops to include how to work and set up QuickBooks accounts for some of the small businesses, social media accounts - how to set up a Facebook and Twitter account, how to make your best Web page."

The strategic plan also addresses the chamber's financial concerns and its relationship with municipal boards and tourism organizations like the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. The plan also seeks to define the role of its executive director, Stevens said.

The chamber's old executive director, Sylvie Nelson, stepped down in May after seven years as the group's leader. Before she left, several board members had resigned because they were upset with her performance.

There's no executive director in place now, but Stevens said the chamber's administrator, Adrienne Relyea, is "very capable" and the board "depends on her a lot." He said the board is putting together a new job description and salary requirements for the position.

Town Supervisor Roby Politi asked Stevens if his organization has been working closely with ROOST, which is funded by occupancy tax revenue in Essex County.

"The funding is there for them," Politi said. "The partnership makes sense. ... You can utilize personnel that is already funded by Essex County."

Stevens and ROOST President Jim McKenna spoke with the Saranac Lake Local Development Corporation this week. Stevens said the conversation focused on how to make ROOST the tourism driver for the Saranac Lake area, which is divided between two counties and multiple towns, including North Elba.

"We have these cross-boundary issues that we have to work with," Stevens said. "You don't have political boundaries in tourism, but those are the realities we face with funding sources."

Politi said the mission of all the various tourism groups should be the same, but unfortunately there's been fragmentation in recent years.

Stevens agreed.

"I think a lot of people have their elbows out, protecting their turf - duplication, lack of efficiency," he said.

Brownell said her business depends on Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.

"It's essential that, although there's a county line, that all the entities are working together because the visitor doesn't see that line," she said.



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