Chamber open house

Pat Hollingshed, left, visits with Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bree Long, center, and TACC President Steve Turner at the open house Thursday night.

Community residents gathered Thursday evening at an open house to welcome Bree Long, the new Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, to her position.

Long has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from Northeastern State University, and before taking the reins for her new position, she was already working on goals for the Chamber.

“I bring to the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce approximately 14 years of professional experience in nonprofit, grant-based community service programs, including affordable housing and workforce development,” she said. “I plan to utilize and contribute the knowledge and skills that I acquired during my tenure in both of my degree programs at NSU to make this collaborative community effort a success. I am confident that both my education and professional experience will be a valuable asset to both the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tahlequah Industrial Authority.”

TACC President Dr. Steve Turner said the screening committee and full TACC board recognize the experience Long brings to the job.

“I hope the community will make an effort get to know her and embrace her, and appreciate the experience she brings with her,” said Turner.

Long said one of her introductory plans as executive director will be to establish mentee-type relationships with some successful Oklahoma chambers of commerce, as well as other leading industry professionals from across the state.

“We are in the pre-development stages of scheduling events for 2015, including the 69th Annual Chamber Banquet and Taste of Tahlequah,” said Long.

Dana Boren-Boer, chairwoman of the Tahlequah Area Tourism Council and TACC board member, said Long is the right person for the job.

“I believe that Bree Long brings experience in nonprofits and a lot of young energy to the chamber, and she is local,” said Boren-Boer.

Long said the TACC plays an active role in development of the city.

“Chambers provide opportunities for networking, education, business exposure and governmental advocacy. From our ambassador committee to our community development committee, there are numerous opportunities for member involvement. Everything we do revolves around one thing: helping promote and grow business,” she said.

Mark Gish, BancFirst president, served on the hiring committee that chose Long and is also a board member of the Tahlequah Industrial Authority. He said the TIA was looking to hire someone part-time to work on economical development and the industrial park.

“Then the Chamber position became available and NSU President and TACC President Dr. Steve Turner, Mayor Jason Nichols and I met and discussed one person serving both the TACC and the authority,” Gish said.

The authority pays a third of Long’s salary, and she works as executive director for the TACC and the city’s industrial authority.

“We are fortunate and happy to have her,” said Gish.

Long said working for both entities is a good idea.

“The Tahlequah Industrial Authority and the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce both share the common goal of working together on economic development. The memorandum of understanding between the two entities allows us to work in unison on promoting the physical and financial attributes of locating a business within our industrial park,” she said. “I am eager to serve businesses, individuals, institutions and organizations across Cherokee County by promoting and enhancing business.

“I am looking forward to ... an opportunity to meet with and begin to earn the confidence and trust of those that I will be serving, including the Tahlequah City Council and Chamber membership.”

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