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BETHLEHEM — The Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce has chosen Maureen McGuinness as its new president, replacing Jennifer Kilcoyne who left in late August.
“I’m very excited because I think the Bethlehem chamber is a very vibrant one and it has 60 years under its belt,” said McGuinness, who took office on Monday, Nov. 5. “I’m looking forward to be able to help the chamber and its member businesses to move forward.”
McGuinness said upon taking office, she first plans to get to know and work with not only the chamber’s members and member businesses, but local officials as well. Then, she’ll design programs and services that will help overall businesses grow while fulfilling the needs of member businesses.
When asked about what exactly those programs and services would be, she said, “I have to first get to know the members one-by-one and until I know what their needs are, I would not know what to specifically do with each one, for now.”
McGuinness’ interest in business began when she growing up. Her family had a small business, where she eventually worked. The experience helped her to understand the need for both small businesses and large national corporations. She said that her father runs a software development firm today.
“Small businesses provide investment into the community and to make each community unique as they are a vibrant part of life,” she said. “With the Bethlehem chamber now, it’s there to support them and help them grow. Also, it supports large businesses and yet have them have a sort of ‘small-business feel’ and interact with the surrounding community on a smaller scale.”
She said that this position enables her to assume a leadership role, which she’s feels she’s ready for, and that her skills and prior years of business experience fit well with the Bethlehem chamber. She was previously at the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce as its Membership Manager since February 2015 and its Economic Advancement and Member Relations Manager since this past April.
“Rensselaer has a fabulous president and she’s going to be there for a while, whereas I felt ready to have that experience as a leader myself,” she said. “But working at Rensselaer was an awesome experience. That chamber was so busy as it put on 40 different programs a year; it was a great learning and hands-on opportunity for me to connect with a wide variety of members and member businesses, where I was able to really hone my skills and prepare myself well to be a leader at the Bethlehem chamber.”
Moving forward, McGuinness said that communication is always imperative while working and maintaining good relations with members and businesses in the community.
“I’m really impressed with all that I’ve seen in the Bethlehem community and looking forward to experience it all even more,” she concluded.