Most departures — even from significant roles in a company or organization — are good opportunities to step back and re-evaluate how things, even the positions, work within the organization. Last week’s announcement that Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce President Tom Weigand will be leaving his chamber post, as well as that of secretary/treasurer for Ottawa/Franklin County Economic Development, presents a time for pause and reflection — a time to see if things could be handled differently or better through organizational changes.
This change offers a “refresh” button of sorts — much like how an Internet browser allows a user to hit “refresh” to get the latest and greatest content. The same may be in order for Weigand’s multiple roles.
Weigand is moving on to bigger responsibilities in Junction City, where he will oversee the consolidation of four separate, but oftentimes overlapping, missions — economic development, membership recruitment, military relations liaison and visitor and tourism efforts — under one umbrella organization. Ottawa has gone the opposite direction with its operation, even though it is a much smaller community than Junction City. The Franklin County Convention & Visitors Bureau separated from the Ottawa Chamber last year. Since that time, it has seen a reduction in its income, necessitating a reduction in expenses. O/FCED and the chamber already were discussing possible organizational changes when news of Weigand’s planned departure came. While there might be other options, it makes sense to discuss bringing all these entities back under one roof, perhaps with a different reporting structure.
Ottawa isn’t big enough to justify or support four separate entities — chamber, tourism, economic development and Main Street. Though economic development is a wholly different function than chamber membership recruitment and tourism, there’s no reason the same support staff can’t be used to administer the similar programs and sometimes overlapping clientele. One director could lead economic development efforts while also overseeing another professional who coordinates the combined tourism and chamber efforts. In the long run, folding in Main Street efforts would make sense too. Then what a powerhouse this combined group could be.
United we stand and succeed.
Divided we fall.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher