Garberville >> This week Laura Lasseter takes the helm as executive director of the Garberville-Redway Area Chamber of Commerce, filling the position after Cinnamon Paula left to spend more time with her family.
Lasseter brings to the position experience with chambers of commerce, management, networking, and marketing.
Lasseter was born and lived in the San Francisco East Bay Area, but spent plenty of time in the Whitethorn neighborhood where her father, David Lowell, lived from 1976 until his death in 1996. Lasseter said she loved fishing in the Mattole River in her little fishing boat, eating huckleberries and blackberries, and enjoyed the forests and the beauty of Southern Humboldt during summers spent with her father.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from San Francisco State University and after a stint with the Oakland television station KTVU, she went into management at Nordstrom. Lasseter’s management skills led her to be involved in the opening of Nordstrom at the Galleria in Dallas. She lived near Dallas for 19 years.
Lasseter went into the hospitality industry, working for an international restaurant company, where the flexibility of making her own hours helped when raising her two daughters after her divorce from her husband.
In her hospitality work she coordinated events, arranged catering, and did marketing. As an area manager, she worked closely with many different chambers of commerce in Texas and Colorado.
“A lot of our chambers in Texas have monthly luncheons where there would be 250 to 300 people, so I would do those luncheons, fully staffed,” she explained.
Lasseter said she continued to visit here and kept tabs on the area through social media. She had always wanted to return to Southern Humboldt, and when her dad died she inherited the property in Whitethorn. Now that her two daughters are in college in Texas, and when she saw the opening for chamber director in Southern Humboldt, Lasseter knew the time was right to make the move.
She said though the local chamber is called Garberville-Redway she sees it as representing the whole Southern Humboldt area. There is a lot of diversity in this local chamber, which represents nearly 200 businesses, organizations and individuals.
“There are opportunities to bring in other outside-of-the-area resources for Southern Humboldt,” she said and she sees a lot of growth potential.
Lasseter sees the role of the chamber as representative of local businesses, to support them in their needs, develop membership and bring new business into the organization, increase tourism and traffic in the community, and help increase revenue for local businesses. She wants to market the eclectic mix that Southern Humboldt has to offer and pinpoint the needs of local business.
She thinks Measure Z will help by bringing in foot patrols and an increase in law enforcement presence. She sees that there is concern among business owners about first impressions tourists might have in town, and said she thinks those concerns are being addressed, and that Measure Z will help.
She would like to do some networking with surrounding counties and in the Bay Area to let people know more about Humboldt. She said increased communication among local business owners, possibly including monthly chamber luncheons, would be useful for networking. Creating more opportunities for communication would contribute to a sense of shared community.
Lasseter said she thinks Southern Humboldt encompasses so much, with state parks, the ocean, and the redwoods.
“You may come up here, have beautiful weather and go to the mountains, go to the parks, go to the ocean. Who knows how things are changing? Maybe visit a dispensary if that’s the case, just like stopping by a winery. But there is so much more to this area than just saying that’s it,” she said. She said she sees the value of looking down the line at the changes that may come with recreational cannabis legalization
“With community support, and I think with Measure Z and our supervisor’s support we are stepping things up to where, when we do have increased tourism, it is in a comfortable environment,” she said.
The Garberville-Redway Area Chamber of Commerce, located in the Redwood Center Mall, 782 Redwood Drive in Garberville, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.