BUSINESS

Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce hires new director

JOYCE F. NOWELL, Echo Pilot
Georgina Cranston of Greencastle is the new executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

When Georgina Cranston and her husband Michael first moved to Greencastle more than two decades ago, the Greencastle-Antrim community was celebrating another Old Home Week. Since then there have been occasional thoughts of taking on opportunities elsewhere, but they stayed and now Georgina is set to take on the role of executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce. She will begin those duties in August.

“We could not believe what a fantastic event Old Home Week was when we first moved here; a town that has this reunion every three years and how people get jazzed up about it, decorate their houses and do all sorts of things for it. It was amazing,” said Cranston. “We were amazed.

“Over the years there have been different ways we could have gone, but something always happened to keep us here. This is where we’re meant to be.”

The announcement

On Friday, chamber board president Cindy Marconi announced the selection of Cranston to “fill the vacancy created by Joel Fridgen’s departure in May.”

The chamber board announced to its membership on Friday, May 29 that Fridgen was on an indefinite leave of absence and that it had unanimously decided to move forward with a search for a new executive director to replace him. In a letter to the editor of the Echo Pilot, published June 1, Fridgen’s family announced that he had had a medical emergency on April 24, was in rehabilitation and making progress. Fridgen has been the executive director for about five years.

In a news release Marconi said, “We are all very excited to welcome Georgina to our chamber staff. Her energy, enthusiasm and experience will help us rebuild our chamber and advance our short and long-term goals.”

Cranston was elected following a regional search, according to the release.

The release noted Cranston brings experience in marketing, operations, event planning, entrepreneurship and education to the position.

Cranston will begin to attend board meeting this month, according to the news release, hold limited office hours, begin meeting with members and assume the position full time on Aug. 3. She can be reached through the chamber office (597-4610) immediately.

The new director

A Long Island, N.Y. native, Cranston earned a bachelors degree at Indiana University and a masters in Business Administration from Penn State University. Cranston operates her own tutoring service and has been employed as an assistant librarian at Mercersburg Academy for 13 years.

Cranston, who has two college-aged daughters, has started a local moms club and has been involved with the Greencastle-Antrim Newcomers Club. She is a member of several book clubs.  

“Though small in scale, Greencastle is mighty in spirit and culture and tradition and as executive director my vision of this position has both length and breadth,” Cranston said in the news release.

“I believe it is the executive director’s role and responsibility to both preserve our history and prepare for our future. To do that, we need to strengthen our membership base, add value to the services we offer and connect businesses to people in the community.”

Contacted at her Greencastle home Sunday afternoon, Cranston said she wants to reinvigorate the  chamber.

“There’s so much that has been done, but I think overall the chamber board is looking to re-energizing all the things that we’ve done,” she said. “Traditionally chambers have always had mixers and breakfasts, and I think they want to make sure that continues to happen, and probably on a more regular basis. But also some new things.

“We have such a great community, but there is need for some new programming.”

Her ideas include starting a book club that would focus on business and leadership success. She would also like to see Greencastle-Antrim begin a family-friendly celebration of New Year’s Eve.

“It would be something that really brings us together and enriches us too.”

The members

Cranston wants to make sure chamber members get a bang for their buck.

“A lot of our members, I think, are starting to question whether there is any value to their membership,” Cranston assessed. “They want to know they are getting something for the money? We want to bring that back; whether we partner with local radio stations to advertise our local businesses, publish our newsletter, introduce a blog or have mixers once a month.

“We really want to promote the businesses that support the chamber and we want to make sure that our website reflects that too. A lot of it is very simple stuff, but it’s stuff that you get away from. And we want to reintroduce that.”

Cranston realizes the chamber conducts many activities, such as Heritage Christmas and Sidewalk Days and praised the recent addition of the Craft Beer Festival.

“It’s not about introducing something new, because we have a lot of great things,” she said. “It’s more the day-to-day, bringing value to the membership who are supporting the chamber; making sure that their businesses are promoted, making sure that we’re celebrating their little milestones. If a business is celebrating an anniversary, the chamber should be recognizing that and putting it at the forefront, whether it’s in our newsletter, on the website or blog.

“The larger activities are great for the community, but the chamber is a consortium of businesses. We want to promote our businesses and make sure that the value we’re asking our members through membership is coming back to them. I really want to connect that.”

The community

While Cranston will focus on the chamber members, she sees a natural tie to community.

“The community is at the heart of it,” she said. “The stronger our chamber is, the stronger our community is. The stronger our businesses are, the stronger our community is. The more businesses we can attract to Greencastle and have them stay here; the people who live here are going to shop here. We want to make sure everybody realizes what is in Greencastle. We want to promote it.

“I’m excited to get to work and I greatly look forward to working with the board and businesses that make our community so wonderful.”