New leadership, goals for chamber

New leadership, goals for chamberBy REBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

After nearly three years without an executive director, the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce will be bringing a new leader on board July 17, when Suzette Caufield takes the helm.

“Suzette has a good feel for the chamber’s mission and the direction we need to move in, but I think she also has a good feel for our community,” said Debbie Benson, who was installed as the new chair of the chamber board last week.

“I am excited to be taking on a new challenge,” said Caufield, who added that she will be spending the next few months learning about the job and its requirements.

“I look forward to working with, and for, the business community as we provide a united voice and effort in making positive changes in our city.”

Benson said she expects that as Caufield acclimates to the role she will discover ways the chamber can improve its services. “Because there are certainly ways that we can improve.”

Those improvements may come in the form of member services and how information is presented to outsiders, said Benson,

“But I think it’s also important that our chamber members are given better access to each other and a better understanding of the services each of our businesses and organizations provide.”

Getting a better understanding of what Ridgecrest has to offer will in turn improve our ability to market ourselves, said Benson.

“We need to ask ourselves why Ridgecrest is interesting — not just because of the heat or the petroglyphs, but everything we have to offer.”

Ridgecrest is a great staging point for outdoor adventures, but it’s also a peaceful getaway with unsung amenities, said Benson.

She added that having a full-time director may also improve the chamber’s ability to work with agencies of similar missions.

Caufield brings to her new role extensive experience in real estate and development and has a history of service in organizations like the China Lake Museum Foundation.

“That kind of knowledge of our community — who we are, how we got here, the cultural and economic sensitivities, the tax situation, water and everything else we deal with — will be very valuable to us at the chamber.

“Ridgecrest has seen a lot of changes in the last year. We have some big new members like Tractor Supply and Timbisha, but it’s also important to stay connected to our longstanding businesses which have been an intrinsic part of our community for decades.”

Benson said that she looks forward to seeing the chamber progress in the next year.

“I have actually been acquainted with Suzette for years, so I know she’s a very hard worker and she has a lot of great ideas. I think this is going to be a very good fit for our community.”

Pictured: Suzette Caufield (left) and Debbie Benson look ahead at the coming challenges and opportunities facing the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-06-23