HOULTON – A local woman who has been touted as a “breath of fresh air” by the board president of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce will begin her role as executive director of the organization today.
Board President Chuck Ames said late last week that Houlton resident Laurie Weston has been hired by the panel to serve as the chamber administrator.
Weston, who has a background in human resources, replaces former administrator Chris Batby. Batby was terminated in early August after the board decided that a new administrator was needed to tackle fundraising challenges.
Ames said the entire board was ecstatic to have Weston on board.
“She is a very energetic, vibrant and positive individual who looks forward to working in this position,” he noted. “She has loads of ideas already and she’ll be a breath of fresh air to the chamber.”
In concert with its ongoing effort to promote Houlton and all of its assets to tourists and interested business people, the chamber is in the midst of a major campaign to raise money to construct new office space.
At this point, the organization is located in the historic White Memorial Building in Market Square, also home to the town’s museum.
With little storage, display or office space, the building is not an ideal location for the chamber. In February, officials began looking for new space so that the organization would be more visible to both residents and tourists.
In June, plans for a new office drew closer after Ward Cedar Log Homes of Houlton donated a cedar building to the chamber.
While the building kit has been donated, the chamber has to come up with an estimated $90,000 to erect the structure and outfit it with necessities such as plumbing and electricity.
Officials hope to raise more than $50,000 in cash and secure in-kind donations to pay for the rest of the project.
One of Weston’s other goals, Ames said, is to revamp the chamber’s Web site and outfit it with a virtual business tour so that visitors can see what the town has to offer.
Ames said the public will soon be seeing a lot of Weston.
“She’s going to be right out there in the community, very visible to everyone,” he said. “We’re very excited about having her on board.”