Member Profiles: Joe Unterreiner
Joe Unterreiner, CCE, President and CEO, Kalispell (MT) Area Chamber of Commerce
Joe is an active participant in the Government Relations Division and a member of the Division Advisory Board. He also serves on the ACCE Board of Directors. In the face of economic challenges, his chamber is ramping up their advocacy efforts for 2009. He recently took time out to answer our four questions.
ACCE: How did you get started in chamber work, and what keeps you in the industry?
Joe: I started my chamber career here in Kalispell in 1996. I was considering buying a business in the area, and some people I'd met encouraged me to think about taking the open chamber CEO position. Having worked in government affairs in the past and having been a small business owner, I thought the chamber position would be an ideal way to utilize my experience and learn the community. Twelve years later I'm in the same role because it gives me an opportunity to work with top leaders to solve our community's issues.
ACCE: What policy issues are currently occupying your time?
Joe: Local option sales tax is a hot issue in Montana and transportation impact fees are important here in Kalispell. Road and infrastructure development in general is also a big issue. Our community is on pace to grow 30% this decade, and we need the capacity to move people.
ACCE: What are the biggest challenges your chamber/community currently face?
Joe: Right now it is the slowing economy. We may have been insulated initially, but now the there is a noticeable impact on overall employment, retail sales, real estate sales and construction.
In the longer term, keeping pace with growth is still a big challenge. Kalispell is constantly atop national lists of places to relocate, vacation, or retire, which fuels our population growth and, in turn, increases demand on our infrastructure.
ACCE: Finish this sentence. Never again will I...
Joe: Never again will I get ahead of my board of directors. From experience I've learned the value of patience when trying to bring my board along with new programs.