New chamber CEO sets 2009 goals
March 2, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matthew Bott, who settled into his new role last week, said he sees opportunity for local businesses despite the sinking economy.
Despite the downturn, Issaquah remains attractive for several reasons, he said, pointing to a high standard of living, good schools and business-friendly policies.His priorities include increasing the number of chamber members and working with local government officials to bring new entrepreneurs to the area. The role of the chamber, he said, is to coordinate efforts between businesses, government and the community at large.
“We serve as a quarterback to bring that all together and make it as seamless as possible,” he said.
After taking the reins Feb. 23, he spent his first few days on the job meeting business owners and community leaders, listening to their concerns and their goals for the city.
Outgoing Issaquah Chamber Board Chairman Larry Ishmael, who served as interim CEO until Bott signed on, praised the new leader for his adaptability.
“He has already exceeded expectations,” Ishmael said.
Bott recently relocated to Seattle from Washington, D.C., with his wife, Jaime, and two young sons, 3-year-old Hudson and 4-month-old Sander. The family plans to move to Issaquah.
The new chamber CEO served for six years as assistant executive director for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity International headquarters, and he recently completed a master’s in business administration from George Washington University. As a college undergraduate, Bott served as student government president at Boise State University.
On his fourth day on the job, Bott sat down to talk about his vision for the chamber.
Q: How do you plan to get acquainted with the business community?
A: I want to introduce myself and get a sense of the pulse of the community, and find out what businesses need to thrive here. I plan to keep my ear to the ground and listen to people around the city and at various organizations. How can we make this great place even better? This is a great place to live.
Q: Why is chamber membership important to businesses and the community at large?
A: The chamber is really the voice of business — the voice of business to government and the voice of business to the community. We serve as a conduit to make sure their voices are heard. We really are in the business of helping business succeed locally.
Q: What is the role of the chamber in relation to local government?
A: We want to be seen as a professional organization that is a true partner to the city. We pride ourselves on thinking strategically about how we can improve the quality of life. This is a special place, and our job is to work in tandem with our leaders on crafting a vision and implementing a plan to make this a great place to live and work.
Q: What elements make the area attractive to businesses considering Issaquah?
A: We have caring citizens, strong leaders, great corporate partners. We have great schools and access to local talent. You put that all together and you’ve got a strong place. A lot of places have maybe one of those elements. We’ve got all of it.