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Chamber selects Fritz Ribary as new director
Fritz Ribary, a lifelong Valley resident, current chamber board member and former North Bend mayor, council member and planning commissioner, was named Tuesday, Dec. 22, as the new executive director for the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Ribary will succeed Minna Rudd, who left the position in October to work for Si View Metro Parks. He will begin work at the chamber on Jan. 1.
Ribary described his position as a culmination of his many activities in the community.
“I see it as an opportunity to utilize the contacts and experience I’ve had in the Valley, over many years,” he said.
Gregory Malcolm, incoming chamber president, headed an extensive selection process. Malcolm said he is thrilled to welcome Ribary aboard.
“Fritz is perfectly suited to step into the role as champion for our chamber,” Malcolm says, “especially at a time when political savvy, connections and a deep working knowledge of the Snoqualmie Valley will be required for the chamber to meet its top strategic goal in 2010 – to bolster the chamber’s viability by increasing the number of chamber members by 100.”
Ribary also plans to sit down with the chamber board in early 2010 for a goal-setting retreat.
He emphasized a Valley-wide approach.
“It’s not the North Bend community or the Snoqualmie community or the Fall City community. It’s always been the entire Valley for me.”
Ribary said his experience gives him contacts and credibility to “get things accomplished for the chamber.”
“It’s an opportunity to bring a lot of partners together, and the current economic climate lends itself to that,” he said. “People are looking for ways to be more effective for everybody.”
Enlarging the chamber’s roll of 290 members, Ribary said, is a matter of “fleshing out and explaining the value to business, and figuring out ways to help each other.”
For example, the chamber could help Christmas tree farms inform their customers from outside the Valley about the many restaurants and shopping areas that are nearby — and, conversely, make a map of area Christmas tree farms available at local restaurants and shopping areas.
“We need to leverage our contacts,” Ribary said. “I think of the number of visitors who go to the Factory Stores at North Bend. When they leave, many of them just get back on I-90 and go home. There’s no reason why we can’t provide incentive, information and encouragement to those people to drive four to five blocks and wander around North Bend, and to divert them.Instead of going back home on I-90, why not drive down Highway 202 and see what we’ve got in Snoqualmie and Fall City? The same approach could apply for people who visit the Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls.
“The local flavor here has a lot to offer, and we have a lot of things that you can’t find in the big shopping complexes in Bellevue and Seattle,” he added.
Ribary has deep roots in the Valley. He was born at Snoqualmie Falls Hospital and was raised on his family’s North Bend dairy. The city’s Ribary Way connector was named after his family.
Ribary plans to continue working as an insurance broker for Mumma and Associates of Bellevue, and will retain his position as an elected commissioner for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital district. He has been a hospital commissioner since 1994.
Ribary told the Record that he sees no conflicts between his chamber position and his hospital commission seat.
While the hospital has supported chamber activities such as the annual Tour de Peaks bike ride, Ribary said he has never seen a situation where he, as a chamber board member, needed to step back from a vote.
“If need be, there is always, with any subject, an opportunity to recuse myself from that particular vote,” Ribary said. “I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
Ribary said he planned to put his brokerage into “maintenance mode,” avoiding the solicitation of new business.
“I don’t want to abandon my clients,” he said. Much of the work of his brokerage can be done on a part-time basis or with help from his customer service staff.
With former director Karen Granger leaving for health problems last May, and Rudd departing to take a “dream job” with Si View Metro Parks, “it’s been a unique year,” Ribary said. There was little the chamber could do to plan for their departures.
He plans to fill the position “as long as they’ll have me.
“I’ve got no plans to slow down,” Ribary added. “As long as people think I’m doing a good job, I’m happy to stay.”
Ribary is aware of the time commitment that the chamber requires.
“It’s certainly not a 40-hour-week and that’s all,” he said. “It’s certainly a lot more than that. I believe I’ll be able to do it.”
Visit Ribary at the chamber office, 8051 Falls Ave SE #2A, Snoqualmie, or call him at (425) 888-6362.