Chamber director resigns

by: , Closson

Mary Closson, who as executive director led the West Linn Chamber of Commerce to its greatest growth ever, is moving on.

On Wednesday, Closson informed the chamber's board of directors that she is resigning to take a similar position in Hood River.

'It was a wonderful career opportunity,' Closson said. 'It's the chance to join a larger chamber of commerce (with 480 members) in a really great community. It's a wonderful step up.

'I was so happy in West Linn, but this offer was too good to pass up.'

Closson said she is leaving West Linn with 'mixed feelings' because of what she described as an outstanding experience in directing the chamber for 2 1/2 years.

'I have so many friends in this community,' Closson said. 'I am really thankful to so many people - our board, the city of West Linn, our chamber members. This is truly a special place.'

The statistics are an indication of Closson's success in West Linn. When she arrived in West Linn in 2005, there were 130 members of the chamber. Today, there are 333 members.

While West Linn was blessed with a business boom, Closson proved successful at getting many of the new businesses into the chamber. She was especially adept at tapping the huge growth of home-based businesses in West Linn. With almost 100 home-based businesses in the fold, they make up nearly a third of the West Linn chamber's membership.

The number of home-based business members grew so large that Closson helped start a special organization for the group last summer.

'I do feel good about what I was able to accomplish here,' Closson said. 'But I didn't do it alone. I had great board and staff support. The West Linn Chamber of Commerce is a player in this community because we have member strength.'

Mark Hanson, president of the West Linn chamber, expressed regret at Closson's departure.

'Mary has been offered a wonderful opportunity with the Hood River County Chamber,' Hanson said. 'While we are sad to see Mary leave, we are excited for her in her new role.'

Closson is excited about the chamber's future. Even on the day of her resignation, the chamber was launching a new ambassador program.

Closson's last day in West Linn is Jan. 31. She will begin work in Hood River on Feb. 11.