DELMAR — To fulfill professional and personal goals, the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce president has moved on from her home base to new beginnings.
President Maureen McGuinness finished her last day at the chamber on Friday, March 18. McGuinness ended her almost four year term as Bethlehem Chamber president to move to become president and CEO of Triangle East Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina. She has called the Capital Region home since 1976 and believes it will always be her home base, but moving to North Carolina has always been a dream of her’s.
“It was a plan I cooked up with my dear friend, Shelley. We wanted to move to North Carolina when our kids finished school,” McGuinness said. “Sadly, Shelley passed away unexpectedly. I finally got to a place where I realized I could still pursue the dream Shelley and I had.”
Another goal McGuinness had was to lead a regional chamber. The regional chambers locally did not have any leadership positions open that led McGuinnes to expand her search. Although the Bethlehem Chamber isn’t a regional chamber, it does represent businesses in 27 different zip codes surrounding Bethlehem. Many businesses represented by the chamber have been experiencing growth such as the Port of Albany, the Port of Coeymans and Plug Power.
“This is bittersweet. We are so privileged to have had such a competent leader in Maureen, but it’s a big loss for us,” fellow board member John McIntyre said. “Our loss is North Carolina’s gain. We wish her well and know she will do well there.”
As McGuinness begins the next chapter of her life, she looks back on her leadership and the work of the Bethlehem Chamber proudly. During the start of the pandemic, she expected the worst, but was happy to see how the community supported local businesses and how well the chamber did their best work which is supporting business. The chamber’s workforce development program is another thing McGuinness is proud of.
“Our Workforce Committee is making important connections between educators and employers, and those connections are going to continue to grow,” she said.
Workforce development shows students the vast amount of careers that exist in the Capital region. McGuinness realizes that college isn’t for everyone and there are a lot of jobs that only require a high school diploma that pay $24 an hour with other benefits. She also believes that the conversation surrounding students who are unsure of the next steps following high school.
“When a student says ‘I don’t know what I want to do but I know I want to own my own business’, we need to start saying, ‘Why don’t you become an electrician you’ll be paid during your training and there is a vast career path including running your own business,’” McGuinness said.
The Triangle East Chamber in North Carolina already has a vast workforce development program which McGuinness will be involved in. She looks forward to potentially growing the open rate of the email newsletter at Triangle East similar to the growth seen at the Bethlehem Chamber. McGuinness is also looking forward to working hands-on with the Johnston county community which she culminated in high school student government.
Overall, McGuinness is ready for his new chapter and the period of growth waiting for her in North Carolina when she starts on April 1. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Bethlehem Chamber and excited for the upcoming changes and successes for the chamber.
The Bethlehem Chamber has opened the search for a new president while Ellen Nesbitt serves in the interim. The chamber expects the process to be completed this spring.