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    Chamber is close to filling opening

    A search committee may make a final decision on a new Chamber of Commerce executive director as soon as next week.

    By MONIQUE FIELDS

    © St. Petersburg Times, published August 19, 2000


    SEMINOLE -- By this time next week, the Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce may have a new executive director.

    A search committee has already sifted through 14 applications and has narrowed the list to five finalists.

    Two were interviewed earlier this week. The remaining three will be interviewed next week, said Larry Cunningham, president of the chamber.

    Cunningham declined to name the finalists because some of them are employed and requested confidentiality, but the committee plans to make a final decision next week in hopes the new director can start on Sept. 1.

    The chamber is searching for a replacement for Pat Schmoranz, who resigned in May to move to Texas with her husband. Her resignation ended a 20-year relationship with the chamber. She earned about $33,000 a year.

    With her departure, the chamber is reevaluating its role in the community. Chamber leaders want to revisit the organization's heyday of the 1970s, when the chamber had as many 700 members, compared with 350 today.

    To do that, it's going to take someone with a lot of energy, enthusiasm and business know-how, Cunningham said.

    "We want somebody, as we continue to interview, who has a real spark plug personality and who can fire us up and make the chamber fun," he said.

    The new leader also will be charged with added responsibilities. In June, the city took a bold step by annexing three neighborhoods into its boundaries.

    As a result of the latest move, the city has a larger tax base and about twice as much land mass.

    It also has more businesses, and the chamber would like to take them under its wing.

    "We want somebody who can deal with economic development issues," said Jim Olliver, treasurer of the chamber and provost at the St. Petersburg Junior College's Seminole campus.

    "We want somebody who can work with small businesses and develop partnerships to assist small businesses," he said.

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