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Salli Kerr surpasses one year leading chamber

Beginning a new job can be a rough experience if you don’t put your all into learning what works and what doesn’t.

After her first year on the job, Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Salli Kerr, is focused on just that.

Kerr, who took over the chamber after a stint managing two local bars, is pleased with her experience during her first 365 days and can’t believe how quick that time flew by.

“I can’t believe it’s already been a year,” Kerr said. “I think it’s been one success after another. Everything about it has gone smoothly. I have had support from the board and things have gone really well. It just feels like this whole year has been successful.”

Although there are a list of accomplishments that Kerr has experienced in the past year, there is one she is most proud of over the others.

“I think the chamber’s reputation in the community,” she said. “We’ve been working hard and we’re starting to see significant change and we are well-respected. We have been working really hard to build that reputation to make people aware of what we’re trying to do for them in the community.

“I want them to see that the chamber is really active and that we’re trying to work together with things to build our community and work hard in.”

Kerr explained that she’s noticed that those who are involved with the chamber are starting to show more pride than in the past.

“(Members are saying) I’m proud to be a member in the chamber and that it is all-important,” Kerr said. “That was my first goal and it’s not done, but I think we’re well on the road.”

One thing that Kerr said she’s seen improve that initially was tough to work through is dealing with individual pride of business owners.

“I feel that sometimes egos get in the way of progress,” she said. “To overcome that and put aside everyone’s differences and work together without anybody’s name having to be on something. I don’t care if Salli’s is on anything, I just want there to be great community involvement and progression.

“So it’s been kind of a surprise to me how much of that there was, and how we need to overcome that. Some of that change comes from how you do it yourself.”

A staple of any new business joining the chamber is the popular ribbon-cutting ceremony. Kerr explained that they serve as a payoff for those business owners who work hard toward setting up their establishments.

“Ribbon cuttings have always been a really big part of what we do,” Kerr said. “We’re always really happy to do that for a new business. It’s always kind of a milestone for them. There’s no big fanfare when they get that final fire inspection done and they get that license. You feel like you’ve run a race and there’s nothing at the end besides getting your certificate in the mail.

“I almost feel like they’re let down, like, really, that’s it. So we get to kind of culminate all of that and make something tangible out of it.”

All though Kerr knows that the fall festival is the biggest event of the year, she did not want to leave out a newer event that has seen substantial growth during the first few years of its existence.

“I don’t want to discount what the balloon festival is,” she said. “It’s going to grow, as it grows every year. I literally have been getting phone calls from people now saying I am bring 20 couples in, I am bringing 10 couples in… on balloon festival which is in February. It’s been phenomenally popular.”

A new addition to town, the Holiday Inn Express on Highway 160, that is tentatively scheduled to open on Sept.1, will aid the growth of events like balloon festival with the extra hotel space it brings with it.

“We all know how many times this town was sold out,” she said. “We’re thankful to have them coming here, because literally the town was sold out and it is totally valuable to have those rooms.”

Kerr has had a smooth year bringing the local business community together and she plans to keep that up heading into year two.

Also seeing success with events that have been in place for at least a few years, Kerr stated that although it might be tricky, she said possibly adding to the calendar is something she’ll keep in mind.

“I want to keep on keepin’ on with the community involvement and to continue our reputations and be something that people want to turn to, and trust us with their business and their growth,” she said. “There might even be a time when we add another event because I think it would really be fun to look at a wine and food tasting event here.

“I’m not sure what extra day of the week I would put it on with all the other ones together, but I think that would be a great addition here. Right now frankly we’re breathing through fall festival. I almost need to get through that before we get creative at all about what we want to do next, but it’s on the back burner.”


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