Daily News

Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director to Retire

NORTHAMPTON — After 27 years of service to the Pioneer Valley, Suzanne Beck announced that she will retire as the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce’s executive director. She cited the completion of the chamber’s strategic plan as the ideal time to pass the baton.

“I could not be more excited about the chamber’s future,” Beck said. “The strategic plan is a forward-thinking response to the area’s growth and change. With a new generation of business and community leaders, I strongly believe that the best way to move the chamber forward is to have a leader representative of that change. While it is hard to step aside, I make this decision certain it is right for the chamber.”

The strategic plan, to be launched over the coming months, is a commitment to serve the health and vibrancy of the community at large as an extension of the growth and strengthening of the business and nonprofit communities under Beck’s leadership.

“I feel very fortunate to have worked with Suzanne over the last six years and to have witnessed a small part of all she has done for our community,” said David DeSwert, board president. “As with everything she’s done in her time as executive director, Suzanne placed the interests of the chamber and the Greater Northampton community above all else when making her decision to retire. She leaves the chamber in an extremely strong position after leading a thoughtful and forward-looking strategic planning process. The strategic plan creates an exciting road map for the new executive director.”

Two years ago, the chamber embarked on a process to reimagine and redefine its role as a community partner. With the nonprofit’s centennial approaching in June, the chamber will be meeting in small groups with stakeholders to present the plan and get feedback.

Highlights of Beck’s accomplishments include:

• Working with Hampshire County business, nonprofit, and community leaders to create the first economic-development strategy serving all of Hampshire County;

• Supporting a group of young professionals to form Northampton Area Young Professionals (NAYP), now in its 10th year supporting the career and community interests of emerging leaders;

• Partnering with the United Way of Hampshire County to create Leadership Hampshire County (a precursor of Leadership Pioneer Valley) to connect, train, and support business and nonprofit leaders with a shared interest in community leadership; and

• Partnering with the Three County Fair Assoc. and the city on the redevelopment of the fairgrounds and construction of new barns.

In addition, the chamber has been committed to the success of downtown Northampton, recognizing its importance as the community’s commercial and civic center. A few examples of this commitment include hosting and supporting the Downtown Northampton Assoc. as a division of the chamber, events like Taste of Northampton and sidewalk sales, and shared promotions that raise money for local nonprofits.

This month, the chamber board will establish a committee to conduct a search for Beck’s replacement and create a transition plan. Beck and the committee will set a mutually agreeable departure date.