North Regional Chamber president abruptly steps down [The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review :: ]
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 05--The sudden departure of the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber's president and CEO is unrelated to struggles the organization has faced within the past year, its board president said on Wednesday.
Rebecca Martin, 54, resigned on Tuesday, after only 15 months on the job.
The organization did not give a reason for her departure. Martin could not be reached for comment.
"It was a surprise to us," board president Jim Boltz said. "She left of her own free will."
Martin replaced Susan Balla, who retired in February 2013.
Boltz said the transition "was kind of rough for us." The chamber's revenue was down about $90,000 in 2013 from the year before.
"It was concerning," Boltz said. "We had enough reserves so it didn't hurt us, but it was something we weren't proud of."
When Martin joined the chamber on Feb. 1, 2013, she told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review she wanted to revitalize the organization through social media and other marketing efforts.
Until August, the chamber had been known as The Chamber of Commerce Inc.
She added that she liked that the chamber supports community efforts, including scholarships and veteran outreach.
"I wanted to choose a chamber that embraces a community in equal parts while growing its own business base," Martin said.
Boltz said about $40,000 of the losses were tied to a decline in membership. The organization has about 1,000 members in southern Butler County, eastern Beaver County and northern Allegheny County.
Another $30,000 was because of a drop in revenue from chamber events, and the remaining $20,000 was because of a drop in online advertising revenue.
"I want to make it clear, the losses are not why (Martin) left," Boltz said.
"We were addressing those issues."
The changes will help the chamber react more quickly to declining revenue.
Boltz said that the board is more frequently reviewing the chamber's finances, and brought in an outside company to help monitor spending.
There are no indications that any money was misspent, Boltz said, and all money is accounted for.
He said the chamber made a profit last spring, but lost money in the summer and fall.
"The chamber of commerce, as most businesses, have slow periods. When we're going through a high revenue period, we want to make sure we're not overspending," he said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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