Chamber discovers director locally

POULSBO — The Poulsbo Chamber will mark its 50th birthday this year and it will do so with a new leader who has a decidedly home town feel.

Jim Martin has been chosen as the new Executive Director of the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce, board members announced this week. He will officially take office March 1.

For Martin, who was raised and has spent a great deal of his adult life in North Kitsap, the announcement is the culmination of a wish he had more than six months ago.

“I don’t start until the first but I’ve been in there every day. I bet I’m getting on everyone’s nerves over there,” Martin said with a laugh. “But I want to hit the ground running.”

The Poulsbo Chamber has been without a permanent director since Executive Director Robert Ford vacated the position Aug. 1, 2003. Ford held the position for six years.

Chamber board member Gary Hoskins served as interim director from Aug. 1, 2003 until Oct. 31, 2003.

Martin said he was interested in the position right away when he heard of Ford’s resignation, but he first met with both Ford and Hoskins to find out what they thought about his candidacy for the spot. With their blessings, Martin said he wrote a letter of intent to the chamber board in August 2003.

“I had talked to everyone who would listen,” Martin recalled. “I sort of campaigned for it.”

Besides searching for a new director in late 2003, the chamber board also announced a number of organizational changes including the hiring of office administrator Roxie Webster. Webster handles the day-to-day operation and administration of the chamber — jobs previously handled by the former executive director position, which was the chamber’s only full-time, paid position. The new half-time director will be responsible for things like membership recruitment and retention, events and activities and fund-raising. Martin, who has been active in civic and professional associations wherever he’s gone, said the opportunity to serve is what attracted him to the position.

“I wanted the job and I wanted the challenges and the opportunities that came along with it but I’m really looking forward to working with the (chamber) board and the membership,” Martin commented. “I want to build membership and sales and energize people. This is a growth year for us and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”

As a current member of the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce and an acquaintance with many of the board members, Martin said he feels at ease moving into the director position. He said recent upheaval in the business organization has only served to strengthen its volunteer leadership, which he said should make his job even more enjoyable.

“I’m really excited and enthusiastic,” Martin said. “I worked at the art auction Friday with some of the board members and they’re some of the hardest working board members I’ve ever seen.”

Though he and his wife have lived in Lemolo for about seven years, Martin describes himself as a hometown boy. He was raised in Keyport, graduated from North Kitsap High School and also from Olympic College before what he jokingly called “the college of the Coast Guard” took him from the area. He also attended the University of Portland and said he’s looking forward to taking a grant-writing course at the new OC Poulsbo campus this spring.

Besides professional development, Martin is a man known for his causes. He’s served on YMCA boards in the Gresham, Ore. and Portland, Ore. areas and has been a member of Rotary International since 1988. He was named Rotarian of the Year by the Poulsbo/North Kitsap Rotary in 2003.

Martin said he felt his work for such community organizations was what may have put him in the lead over a bank of very qualified candidates for the executive director position.

“Everything I’ve done and every experience I’ve had has brought me to this point,” Martin said.

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