While our breakfast meeting on May 13 had all the trappings of a routine meeting–a piano prelude, a tasty breakfast buffet, lively conversations, and announcements about the many events and developments taking place in the village–the agenda revealed big changes for the Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce.

To start, it was our first meeting without Fred Steiner at the helm. As the outgoing chamber CEO, he was the featured speaker and presented his thoughts on “How to Succeed in Bluffton by Really Trying.” Fred has a wealth of ideas on how chamber members and others in the Bluffton “power grid” can make the village a better place for residents, businesses, and visitors. To get the full scope of Fred’s speech, you can check out his notes on the Bluffton Icon.

I’d add that in a discussion about “really trying” you can look to Fred for a good role model. Don’t be fooled by his ability to list a wide range of village needs and shortcomings. He loves Bluffton and has worked unbelievably hard to promote its interests. In his eight years as CEO he has doubled the chamber’s membership and made the monthly breakfast meetings an unparalleled business-to-business opportunity in Bluffton.

And while Fred may be “retiring” from his job at the chamber–he’ll still be leading the Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs and the Bluffton Icon and Ada Icon online news outlets–he is now preparing to focus on the best opportunities to make Bluffton more visible and welcoming to visitors.

We also met the Chamber’s new CEO:Gennifer Akroyd. Wearing a name tag reading “Not Fred,” Gennifer discussed her first priority: marketing Bluffton to the state and country using social media. In her stilettos, Gennifer certainly looks like a new breed of CEO. However, after hearing her speak, it’s clear that she shares Fred’s loyalty to and excitement about Bluffton. To learn more about Gennifer, check out the May 13 profile in the  Lima News.

This was presumably the last business meeting before the chamber takes a summer break. Our June meeting will be a “surprise” party for Fred. Hope to see you there!

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