Chamber hires new director

By GARRETT NEESE

gneese@mininggazette.com

HOUGHTON – For the first time in three years, the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has a full-time executive director.

Cheryl Fahrner marked her first day in the role Tuesday. An Ironwood native, Fahrner had spent the past 14 years living in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and working in central Wisconsin, including from 2001 to 2008 as executive director for the Plover Area Business Association.

“I really had a great chance to work with business people on addressing some of our community concerns and opportunities,” she said. “I’m looking forward to doing the same thing in this area – just really building a lot of collaborative efforts with other organizations and working with the businesspeople to strengthen some of their networking opportunities and just build a strong environment for businesses.”

In 2008, Fahrner moved to the American Heart Association, where she worked as regional corporate events director.

This is Fahrner’s second time living in the Keweenaw, having worked for Detroit & Northern Bank in Hancock from 1982 to 1984.

“I really enjoy living in the area, and I saw that this was an opportunity and something I had done in the past,” she said.

Fahrner said she would also like to see the chamber form an ambassadors’ group, which would go to ribbon-cuttings, welcome businesses to the community and make business visits.

She will also look to program additional networking and speaker events, and partner with other community entities for relevant forums.

She wants to hear from local businesses.

“I think it’s important to hear from members, and non-members to see why they aren’t a member,” she said. “What is it that they feel our role should be for them, and what really is the role of a chamber?”

During the three years since its last director, the chamber board and staff have maintained member services and activities.

“We’re excited to begin working with Cheryl to implement her ideas to bring greater levels of service to the business community,” board President Glen Tolksdorf said in a statement.

Compared to her first period in the Keweenaw, Fahrner sees a lot of growth and opportunities, with new developments such as the MTEC SmartZone and better road systems into the area.

“With technology these days, people can be anywhere in the world,” she said. “Why not be here in the U.P. and take advantage of all the natural resources that we have and the technology that we have here in the area with the university systems, with the businesses that have grown here?”