The organization’s face is changing, but the mission remains the same
By Michele Sonkin
As Rick Kidder prepares to leave his role as the president and CEO of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, he has a simple prediction for the organization’s future: “Sky’s the limit.”
After 15 years of service, Kidder has resigned so he can be closer to his family in his native New England. His last day with the chamber is July 17 and he will be moving to Massachusetts shortly thereafter.
“I’m excited to be heading back home even though I’ve loved living in Scottsdale for the past 30 years,” he says.
Kidder has secured a new job leading the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce. New Bedford is a coastal Massachusetts city, has a rich whaling history and boasts the nation’s largest fishing port. The burgeoning economy is comprised of mostly independently owned businesses. “New Bedford is a place in transition. It’s a vibrant community,” he says.
It is also home to golf-industry heavyweight, Titleist, and the Zeiterion Theater. The mission of the 1,226-seat capacity venue is to provide New Bedford and the region with performing arts programming of excellence that inspires, educates, engages and entertains, according to its website.
Former Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce board chairman, Eric Larson, will serve as interim president and CEO.
“Eric is a wonderful man who knows this chamber inside and out,” Kidder explains. “He’s going to be a tremendous asset and will keep things moving along seamlessly.”
Finding Kidder’s replacement is a task that the board of directors is taking very seriously, says Bryce Lloyd, board chairman. The group does not plan to rush the process.
“We’re all sorry to see Rick go,” Lloyd says. “He’s been such a great leader and face of the chamber. We’re focusing our search on local candidates. Whomever we choose will be someone local who knows the issues that the area faces and who understands the importance of lobbying for interests of local businesses.”
Lloyd says that even with the leadership change, the chamber will continue to stress the importance of membership.
“If you care about doing business in Scottsdale, you should be a member of the chamber,” he says.
Reflecting on his tenure with the chamber, Kidder recalls the challenging economic times that spanned from 2008-2012 when so many local businesses struggled to stay afloat and the Scottsdale Airpark had a one-third vacancy rate.
Kidder adds that Larson provided extra support to the chamber during that time and that he’s happy that the difficult times are behind them.
“Scottsdale entered the recession a little later that the rest of the country and we recovered from it later,” Kidder says. “The chamber is a reflection of the success or lack of success in the community’s economy. I’m excited to be able to leave the chamber in good shape.”
As for his hopes for Scottsdale’s future, Kidder is excited about the direction of the local economy, especially the growth and expansion of the biotech and healthcare industries.
He has high hopes for the continued development of the Cure Corridor, the area of Scottsdale with a heavy concentration of businesses, like the Mayo Clinic, that focus on bio-life sciences.
“I believe that cures for certain types of cancer will come out of Scottsdale,” he says with conviction.
As he prepares to leave, Kidder says he will fondly remember the staff with whom he worked.
“We have been blessed with the best staff,” he says. “We work them hard and we are relentless about quality. It’s all about the staff, not me. I’m just the flag waver.”