Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Travis Palmer announced his resignation Nov. 20, citing family and occupational reasons.
“My wife got a job offer to teach at the College of Western Idaho,” Palmer said. “Plus, we’re both from the Boise area and most of our family is still there … so we’re moving back to be closer to family and this is a way to get us there.”
Prior to moving to Cottage Grove, Palmer was an account manager with the Boise Metro Chamber. He moved to Cottage Grove to take the executive director position on Nov. 28, 2011.
In his eight-year tenure, Palmer has worked to craft an image for the Chamber and, consequently, the city.
“I think I branded the Chamber as a strong organization – a strong resource in Cottage Grove for supporting business and economic development,” he said. “I think I put us on the forefront of marketing Cottage Grove as a place where people can not only come for business, but can also come to recreate.”
Palmer’s attention to tourism was a marked aspect of his time in the executive director chair.
“We put a fair amount of effort into attracting people to visit Cottage Grove, which I think has been a good thing,” he said. “We’re still a small town. We still only have so many jobs, but if we can attract outsiders to come and spend some money and help engage in tourism while they’re here, I think that’s a nice icing on the cake.”
Aiding the growth of local business has also been a key accomplishment in Palmer’s eyes.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is our involvement in the Business Challenge,” he said. “I would like to be here a little longer to see that develop. It’s got a tremendous amount of potential and I know it’s on a good path.”
During his time in Cottage Grove, Palmer also took on the role as part-time director at the Cottage Grove Community Foundation, a nonprofit which supports the community by receiving, holding, investing and administering contributions such as grants, scholarships and endowments.
“I think my biggest accomplishment with the Foundation has just been making it more known to the community,” Palmer said. “We’ve seen a huge acceleration of the growth of our funds in Cottage Grove. It’s been rapidly increasing in support and donation.”
During his tenure, Palmer also took on board member and advisory responsibilities with the Vision Keepers, the Main Street Program, the Cottage Grove Community Development Corporation, Travel Lane County, Lane Community College and several other advisory committees and task forces.
“I’m going to miss Cottage Grove a lot. Both my son and daughter were born here … I’ve made a lot of friends,” he said. “We’re not just leaving Cottage Grove; we’re leaving all these different friendships and community events.”
Palmer has overseen the development of several events over the years such as the Halloween Howl, Christmas in Cottage Grove and Concerts in the Park.
“I’m really going to miss those things,” he said. “I’ve been able to have a significant role in all those. And I feel like a part of me is in them.”
Palmer partly attributes his successful transition into the community to a mindful process of listening and learning.
“It was listening to what worked and paying attention to the things that maybe didn’t work so well and then, when the time was right, started putting my touch on things and offering suggestions for improvement where it seemed to make sense,” he said.
The next executive director, Palmer said, will benefit from listening to a community which rewards engagement.
“For whoever comes in, I would tell them, ‘Don’t try to measure up to me or anybody before me. Just try to come into it and try to learn about what your membership and your community views as important and figure out how you can best add your own secret sauce to the formula,’” said Palmer. “Hopefully I’m leaving the Chamber in a good place.”
Palmer’s last day as executive director is projected to be Dec. 20.