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Gowen steps down as Chamber CEO

Chamber Board of Directors say they will immediately be seeking a permanent replacement
After serving two years as CEO of the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, Bill Gowen resigned this past Friday.
   The Chamber board named local business owner and board vice-president Joe Becker as the interim executive director while they look for a permanent replacement.
   Board president Ed Yoder said the leadership change is taking place as the Chamber implements its strategy to better support local businesses and attract new companies and tourism.
   “Our goal for the future is to not only increase local business growth, but also drive tourism through multi-marketing media."
   Yoder characterized the resignation as a mutual decision between Gowen and the board.
   “We have some different technologies now that Bill was not familiar with that we are using,” he said. “That is going to better help serve the business community.”
   Yoder did not cite any other reasons for Gowen’s departure.
   “My two years with the Chamber has been rewarding and it has been a growth step for me,” Gowen said. “I believe that I have led the Chamber to a different place than when I took over.”
   Becker said the board plans to emphasize membership as they move forward. They hope to boost annual membership renewals and get businesses connected so they see the value in a Chamber membership.
   “It’s something we want to improve on, and timing-wise, we are a little behind when we normally do it,” he said of the renewals.
   Gowen said he is going to miss being able to contribute to the changes the board will make and will miss being a part of the Chamber’s new approach to the business community.
   At a future date, the board will hire a permanent replacement, although they have to determine a specific timeframe. Meanwhile, they appear comfortable with Becker running as the interim.
   “He’s familiar with how the Chamber operates and what our directives are,” Yoder said. “He also has the time that he can put into it, where the other board members could not.”
   Following his resignation, Yoder made a point of publicly thanking Gowen for his service.
   “We know he will continue to be an asset to our community,” he said.