So far, Barbara Burkart, Tigard Chamber of Commerce's new chief executive officer, has found a hospitable welcome from residents and Tigard's business community. She's also found a vibrant downtown area that she expects will continue to grow.
Burkart officially took over her duties on March 21, after Debi Mollahan officially retired after 12 years at the helm of the organization with plans to move to a new home she's building in Sunriver.
"I think what I'm most excited about is really kind of getting in, getting to know the business community and helping them grow coming out of the pandemic," Burkart said, adding that she thinks people are ready to move on after the public health emergency. "I think we've seen a lot of energy in the air. We've seen a lot of people kind of coming out to reconnect with one another, attending events, showing up at events, signing up and so forth."
Burkart said she's looking forward to taking the chamber to the next level, integrating some of the programs they have and adding more members as well as broadening participation in the community.
After enjoying an extensive and successful career in healthcare, Burkart said she wanted to advocate for businesses, calling herself a "natural business person."
"That's what kind of drew me to the chamber," she said.
Burkart is looking forward to not only championing local businesses but growing and diversifying the chamber's membership base.
While the chamber boasts 248 members, Tigard has 3,300 business licenses issued for businesses, "so we've got a lot of work to do and we're excited about that," Burkart said.
"Tigard's been a really warm community and very, very welcoming," she said. "I'm grateful for that and truly excited to go work for them."
So far, Burkart has been finding her way around the city, trying to get to know chamber members, having already attended several new business ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
In addition, she attended the chamber's first Tigard Shining Starts Community Awards presentation April 29 at Embassy Suites Washington Square with 130 attendees showing up, a stellar turnout considering that the COVID-19 pandemic had sidelined the event for the last two years.
Burkart noted the annual Tigard Farmers Market kicked off on Sunday with over 43 vendors.
Burkart says she loves downtown Tigard, finding it very busy, something she considers a positive sign for the area's vitality.
"I think downtown is fabulous," said Burkart. "It's growing. We're seeing a lot of activity. We're gearing up for the summer's events and we're looking forward to great participation with sponsors and attendees."
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