Thompson steps down as Georgetown chamber president

GEORGETOWN — The Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce’s top administrative post is vacant – temporarily – with the departure of Kevin Thompson, whose last day as chamber executive director was Friday.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Mr. Thompson, who was hired by the chamber in October 2017, initially as director of operations. “It was a really good experience for me; a lot of professional growth through the people I met and things that I learned from them as the executive director doing chamber stuff. And also, the things I learned from a lot of the people that I met from different professions that gave me a different perspective on different areas of business, which I always like to get.”

Kevin Thompson

Georgetown chamber president Linda Price said the chamber’s board has decided on Mr. Thompson’s replacement, but is unable to “officially” hire his successor, Nicole Wright, due to financial constraints because of the coronavirus crisis.

“Unfortunately, with this whole COVID-19 thing, the chamber, we weren’t immune to it. Our founding sources kind of dried up, and our finding sources were chamber memberships and chamber renewals. Of course, people want to be part of the chamber, but it is not that important to small businesses now that they have got more things that they have to worry about,” said Ms. Price.

With chamber events, mixers and gatherings on hold during the coronavirus crisis, chamber’s executive committee will oversee daily operations with the volunteer assistance of Ms. Wright, who was a board member and member of the chamber’s personnel committee.

“She was laid off from her job. So, she volunteered to work in the office when it’s necessary. The office is definitely closed,” Ms. Wright said. “She is going to do that on an as-needed basis. Then, when we get funding, we will officially hire her to take over as executive director. But right now, we don’t have that capability to be able to do that. We’re trying to play it day by day to see where we are.”

While he has secured new employment as a financial adviser for Edward Jones in Georgetown, Mr. Thompson plans to remain active in and supportive of the Georgetown chamber.

“I’ll be a member and I’ll still be at all the events,” said Mr. Thompson. “I already committed to volunteer for Wings & Wheels. I told Linda I still wanted to be a part of that.”

Ms. Price reflected on Mr. Thompson’s tenure with the Georgetown chamber.

“What Kevin brought to the chamber was a good technology background and event planning. He never worked in the nonprofit world before but was very much up to the challenge of learning it and bringing whatever he could to the table,” said Ms. Price. “Over the last three years he worked really well with different presidents of the chamber, but also with the town, because one of things we were lucky enough to do is have our executive director be part of the town’s Main Street program.”

“For me personally, Kevin was a very calming influence. He didn’t get overwhelmed very often, and just plowed through things, and methodically did it and picked up the slack where it was needed,” Ms. Price said. “No matter how much I knew I was going to miss Kevin, I was really happy for him that he has an opportunity to help grow and help him grow his family. He’ll be right around the corner and definitely involved with the chamber and a presence with us for Wings & Wheels. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”

With chambers facing difficult times with restrictions, business closures, shortened open hours and employee furloughs, the Georgetown chamber is actively promoting its open businesses and restaurants on a new Facebook page with the town of Georgetown in a “We Are Georgetown” social media campaign.

“In the interim, we took a page out of Milford. Milford started a page ‘We Are Milford’,” said Ms. Price. “The town provided us with their branding materials, and we started a Facebook page called ‘We Are Georgetown’. We’ve been in really close communication with the town and we’re trying to tag-team off each other to make sure that we get information out there and to support the businesses.”

One initiative is incorporating businesses in the virtual world.

“We are anticipating some things that we can do to help business into our restaurants that are still open. We’ve got some really cool ideas that will help us give our community some things to do as well as bring some business to our businesses that are open,” Ms. Price said.

“We are also looking at what we can do from a town and a chamber once this is all over, or we get back to what is considered our ‘new normal.’ We are really trying to work hand in hand with the town to make sure that we both are on the same page.”