President of Paso Robles chamber to retire a year early

Mike Gibson stepping down after nine years to travel the world with his wife

tstrickland@thetribunenews.comSeptember 9, 2013 

Mike Gibson

JAYSON MELLOM — The Tribune

Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Gibson is retiring after nine years to travel the globe with his wife, Jeannie.

“I’ve worked to be a much stronger voice” for the chamber and to be involved in the community, he said of his time with the business organization.

His retirement was planned but came a year early when the couple recently decided to sell their westside Paso Robles home as real estate prices began going back up, Gibson said. Now, the couple plans to live abroad, traveling for several years through Europe and wherever else their journeys take them.

“It’s an adventure my wife and I have been flirting with for years and decided to take the jump,” he said, noting they have no immediate plans to settle down in the United States.

He announced his resignation Friday. His last day will be Oct. 4.

A special hiring committee, made up of the chamber’s board of directors and community leaders, is gearing up to find his successor. A regional search is slated to launch this week. Gibson’s successor will be tasked with managing six employees, a membership of 1,000 businesses and 17 board members.

Gibson declined to disclose the chamber’s annual budget and his salary but said a salary range will be given when the committee approves the job posting by the end of the week.

Since starting with the chamber in 2004, Gibson, 66, said he’s worked to shape it from a social group into a resource hub.

“To mentor them, educate them, and advocate for them — that is equally important to our businesses here,” Gibson said.

Developments in his tenure, such as opening the Paso Robles Business Resource Center in 2011, have been primarily aimed at helping small businesses grow. The center was broadened to serve the entire North County in 2012. He has worked to stay involved locally, including an unsuccessful go at running for Paso Robles mayor in 2010. He has also volunteered with several countywide business and educational groups and committees, including the Economic Vitality Corp.

Gibson learned from his wife’s former home furnishings store, Gibson & Co., which closed downtown in 2010 when she retired, and from watching the city’s revival from the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake.

“It’s just a wonderful amazement that we’ve got that … perspective of ‘No matter how tough things get, we’re going to survive,’ ” he said.

Looking ahead, the chamber will face several issues. Among them, Gibson said: the perception that downtown has a parking problem and how to continue to attract small boutique retailers that complement the town’s wineries and restaurants.

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