There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s building his posse one group at a time.
The Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce welcomed its new chief executive soon after September’s Avocado Festival. Without fanfare, Craig Schmidt is determined to build a cohesive community team to meet tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.
Schmidt comes to Morro Bay with chamber and small-business experience.
“When I started my first business in 1985, my banker suggested I join the Chamber of Commerce. What was that?” he said. “Twenty-five years later, it’s easy for me to talk about chamber benefits. I’ve experienced them firsthand.”
Originally from Ohio, Schmidt found a world beyond by walking the Appalachian Trail.
He served on chambers in Hood River County, Ore., for 13 years before leading the Healdsburg, Calif., group. When he noticed a favorite vacation spot — Morro Bay — needed a chamber exec, he knew he’d found his paradise.
“I live by Western Association of Chamber Executives goals — economic development, promotion, networking and advocacy for business,” he said. “I prefer to be known as a facilitator of opportunities.”
Since setting an agenda for both chamber and visitor center business with his new board of directors led by returning President John Weiss, Schmidt has shared the workload with staffers Rochelle Bento and Sharon Bufo and volunteers.
He’s also building his community team. He’s created an economic development committee and event planners’ roundtable, and he’s collaborated with businesses and vendors to reorganize the community market.
Next he wants to gather the arts community together to brainstorm opportunities.
Meanwhile, Morro Bay events rage on. The annual Kite Parade and Festival is Saturday and Sunday.
“We’re expanding it to two days. Sharon has been working hard to gather parade entrants, vendors and kite performers,” Schmidt said. “We’ll start it off with a ‘no floats required’ parade at 10 a.m.
“You just need a sign, imagination and candy if you want. Salinan Indians will do the blessing of the wind at Morro Rock, then the professional kite wranglers take over,” Schmidt added. “We are giving out 400 kites to the kids so they can help fill the sky with kites.”
Bufo said, “The revolution kites that look like sets of wings will fly to DJ music. Penny Lingenfelter will be back this year as Peter Pan. She was Cat in the Hat last year.
“They’re doing something called ‘hanging the laundry’ where they launch one kite at a time to fill the skies,” she added. “The huge kite turbines will be on the ground, and hopefully we’ll have enough wind for local kite surfing demonstrations.”
For a preview kite demo, Lingenfelter can be seen on YouTube, or call the Morro Bay chamber at 772-4467.
Contact Judy Salamacha at email@example.com or 801-1422.