Bill Swift is the new executive director of the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce. He took over the position on July 15th, replacing outgoing director Julie Isom. Swift speaks about background and goals for chamber.
Bill Swift has been in Ketchikan since January when his wife, Susan, took a position at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center as a psychiatric nurse. He says they decided to come to Ketchikan not only for her job, but because it offered much of what they both love.
“We’ve got salt water, we’ve got mountain…I heard there’s some fishing available here. There are all kinds of things that match our lifestyle. And some adventure.”
Upon arriving in Ketchikan in January, Swift worked at Pacific Airways in marketing and coordination. Before moving to the First City, he and his wife lived in Portland, Oregon for more than 30 years.
While in the Pacific Northwest, he was executive vice president for Cascade Employers Association, a 450-member organization similar to a chamber of commerce. He also had his own consulting business for more than 15 years. Swift says with his consulting, training and marketing background, the Ketchikan Chamber was a good fit.
He says he contacted the Ketchikan Chamber last fall to express interest in the executive director position, but Isom had just been hired for the job. When the position became vacant again, he met with the chamber board.
“Actually one of the reasons that I continued to be interested in the position is that the board was really engaging. It’s a diverse and a vibrant board. So I was even more interested because I felt like we could challenge each other and continue to make the chamber of commerce really thrive.”
Asked what he brings to the job, he says he brings a certain energy and savvy.
“My better consultant friends tell me it’s important to learn what to stop doing. That is, if we get busy, busy, busy, we lose track of where our sweet spot is and where we can really add value.”
Swift says his add-value zone tends to be development, training, networking and membership.
“I’ve been talking to members just in the past week, past members or incoming members, about what rings the bell for them with the chamber of commerce and what makes a difference.”
He says with the help of the board he hopes to keep the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce relevant and in the public eye.
“We’re some place where you really want to come in and have a conversation. Not just get to the lunches, although that’s important, but get involved on some level that makes sense to you. For one hour you give, you get 10 back in terms of the benefit to your company.”
The chamber of commerce offers a weekly, no-host lunch each Wednesday with special speakers. The lunches are open to the public.
Swift says he plans to be out in the community engaging members, and helping with advocacy and development of vibrant businesses in the greater Ketchikan area. He encourages people to share their thoughts, both positive and negative, about the chamber, and ideas on ways to make the organization better. The chamber office is located upstairs in The Plaza mall.