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Bringing 13 years of experience, most recently as vice president of Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, Sheri Cote is the new president of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce. (Photo courtesy of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce )
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Sheri Cote may have arrived for her first day on the job just last week, but true to her proactive style, she had already hit the ground running.
Even before she officially began her role as the new president for the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (SCC) on Jan. 2, Sheri was at the SCC board meeting in December and sat in at a December meeting of Branford’s Economic Development Commission. Suffice it to say, she’s excited to get started.
“I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working with the Board of Directors and staff to continue the chamber’s vital work for the shoreline’s business community and grow the organization,” Sheri says. “I could not be more excited about the possibilities that exist here on the shoreline for business development.”
Sheri brings with her a wealth of experience that includes 13 years in chamber management. Most recently, Sheri served as vice president of Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, helping it grow to 1,600 members.
Although she’s arriving from a chamber that oversees 42 member towns to lead one advocating for the economic success of member businesses in three towns—Branford, North Branford, and Guilford—Sheri says she’s impressed with the area’s industry base, including a burgeoning biotech and biomed base, and is already finding SCC has created some unique opportunities for its members.
Sheri also recognizes SCC’s efforts to support many businesses and organizations that are looking to grow this area’s tourism base, including craft breweries in Branford, Guilford’s historic New England charm ,and North Branford’s growing agritourism efforts.
As vice president for the Eastern Connecticut Chamber, Sheri chaired Thames River Innovation Place, launched the Regional Core Calendar, and started the Eastern Connecticut Premier Home Show and the Total Life Expo.
“Eastern Connecticut is very tourism-heavy, especially in the Mystic area,” says Sheri, who helped manage a $1.2 million budget and oversaw 11 staff to produce more than 150 programs and events annually.
“I have a passion for tourism and for bringing people into the community so they can spend their money,” says Sheri, adding she’s looking forward to learning more and helping the shoreline to capitalize on some specific tourism opportunities, such as the big draw enjoyed by Stony Creek Brewery in Branford.
“I’ve heard terrific things about Stony Creek Brewery and Thimble Island Brewery [and others]. I haven’t had enough time to visit, as yet, but someone told me Stony Creek Brewery brings in 300,000 people annually! That’s a big deal,” says Sheri. “So I certainly do think there’s potential for some marketing outside of this area to help bring people here.”
Sheri says she’s also impressed with SCC’s efforts to advocate on behalf of its members and is especially interested to learn more about the chamber’s very successful Non-Profit Workshop Series. Organized by a spin-off committee of chamber members, the recurring series provides quality, affordable professional guidance with workshops led by strategists, consultants, and others who can guide development goals for volunteers and board members of local non-profit groups of all sizes.
One of the most remarkable things about the non-profit series is the fact that it, like so many other chamber offerings, events, and programs, is organized and run by volunteers.
“Our volunteers are very important to the success of the chamber. It’s actually a necessity,” says Sheri. “Having a staff of only four people here, we definitely need to rely on our volunteers.”
Add to that a hands-on Board of Directors, and you have the main ingredients for SCC’s recipe for success, she says.
“Having an engaged and interested board who, like many of our members, are willing to be on committees and chair committees, makes a big difference,” says Sheri.
In a press release announcing Sheri’s appointment, chamber board chair-elect Camille Murphy hailed Sheri’s qualifications and expressed the board’s enthusiasm for the future of SCC under Sheri’s leadership.
“The board and I are delighted that Sheri will lead the Shoreline Chamber into its next stage of growth. We are thrilled to find someone with a solid chamber background and who understands the unique needs of a membership-driven organization,” said Murphy, adding, “...we are quite confident that she will grow the chamber’s membership and increase awareness of the chamber’s mission and what we have to offer the business community.”
While she’s still in the planning stages for her approach to assist with that growth, Sheri says she’ll be looking at current chamber membership benefits and working to “increase the value, so we’re helping out businesses the best that we can.”
In addition, she also would like to assist businesses by putting on pro-development business seminars on topics that include social media, retirement succession planning for small business people, financial management issues, and cyber security, to name but a few.
“I’m looking at everything that we’re doing,” says Sheri, who also plans to strengthen SCC’s own “professional marketing” to effectively streamline updates and other communications with members.
A Waterford resident, Sheri has been visiting the shoreline frequently to accelerate her familiarity with the area.
“As I drive around getting to know the area, I’m just amazed at the growth and development here with businesses,” she says. “I’m overwhelmed with excitement to be working with these businesses and helping them out. I think it’s a terrific area.”
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