Jim Tingen's first day on the job as the new executive director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce was all about making connections.
"It started out the best way it could have started," he said of April 15. "I was able to meet with the executive committee. ... I mostly sat and listened and took a lot of notes. It's a lot of information for me to absorb."
The 54-year-old Evans resident said he met with some people in the community and his three-person staff.
"They were breaking me in, which I appreciate," he said.
His first public act as executive director was a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Monkey Joe's on Furys Ferry Road.
Prior to the event, Tingen said he received numerous tips on the speech he was expected to deliver at the ribbon cutting.
"They wanted to make sure I did well on my first one," he said.
He met with some chamber diplomats, a group of volunteers who act as liaisons between members and chamber officials.
That was followed by a 30-minute session with an eighth-grade Evans Middle School pupil he mentors as one of his duties with the Martinez-Evans Optimist Club.
Finally, he returned to his new office and started to familiarize himself with his new digs.
"I'm really excited and today couldn't have been any better," he said.
The former special projects director for CallingPost Communications, Tingen was hired April 2 to replace Karen Chrjapin, who resigned last month due to budget conflicts with the executive committee.
Tingen said he expects to have more formal conversations with the executive committee to discuss his responsibilities and set goals. Among his personal goals, he said, is to improve member retention to at least 90 percent and add 90 new chamber members within a year.
Last Wednesday, Tingen figuratively dipped his big toe into the water before leaping off the diving board.
"This is the beginning of building relationships," he said. "I'm not really trying to get into any heavy meetings today (April 15). I'm just trying to get familiar with everything."
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