At their most recent board meeting, the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce voted on two new directors for leadership positions of chairman and vice chairman.

The new Chair, Dawn Ferrante, is the Executive Director of the Carbon County Economic Development Corporation, and also the Director of the County Department. The Vice Chair is Pat Handwerk, owner of the Harry Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe. The two begin in their roles immediately, as a reorganization meeting between the past leadership and the new leadership took place this past Tuesday at Bert's Steakhouse in Palmerton.

The previous roles had been held by Dave Althouse (chair), of Carrigan's Country Pharmacy, and Jack Sturm (vice chair), of J.A.S Associates.

After the meeting last week at the Blue Ridge Country Club, Althouse had this to say about his tenure as the leader of the organization, "I have enjoyed my time immensely but after almost four years am ready to pass the baton. I believe the next leadership team will be able to take the organization to the next level but I will always be here to support them in any way I can and further the goals of the Chamber."

Ferrante, the incoming Chair, gave high praise to Althouse at the event by saying, "Dave brought the Chamber through some very rough times and during an economic downturn that has been extremely challenging. His leadership, guidance, and strong direction was exactly what the Chamber needed." Althouse will remain on the Board in an At Large role.

Heather McClure, the Administrative Assistant and sole staff person of the Chamber, added, "The next phase of the Chamber will be to focus on bringing more value to the membership. The number one reason people join the Chamber is for the networking, and we will be adding a number of opportunities to do that over the next year. Dawn and Pat will also be integral to our consolidation efforts among Chambers and Councils."

The organization has been working on a consolidation of the regional organizations that go by various names (some refer to themselves as Chambers and some as Councils) for the past year. A deadline has been set to bring together the regional organizations by October 1, 2012 under one organization name, the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce. The regional groups will then exist as Committee's of the CCCC, a model common in other Chambers of Commerce.

The previous leadership, the new leadership, along with staff and additional support from the Lehigh Valley Chamber have been meeting with the individual Councils/Chambers over the past month and will continue to do so through August and September. The Chamber consolidation is part of a larger effort to bring groups together in the county.

"We have been working for the past three years to consolidate a number of organizations whose mission's are similar (to assist businesses). I'm hopeful that it will all come together as a new combined entity after January 1, 2013." Ferrante said, "By working together we can make a greater impact. Each organization has something to contribute, as does each regional area. However, if we work together we can have a greater impact and reduce the strain on volunteer's in each geography by creating economies of scale."