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Publish Date: 3/17/2005

Chamber shakes up leadership
Cole out after 61/2 years as president of LACC


LONGMONT — Six and a half years after he took the job, Doug Cole is out as president and CEO of the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce. But the circumstances surrounding his departure remained unclear Wednesday.

Sources said Cole was notified Tuesday afternoon, but that could not be confirmed.

“All I can say is that Mr. Cole is no longer with the chamber organization,” said Stacy Cornay, chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors. She said an official statement would be released at some point.

Cornay declined to comment when asked if Cole’s departure was a board action, but did say that everyone on the chamber’s 15-person board was aware of Cole’s departure before Tuesday.

According to Cornay, Cole was on a yearly contract, but would not elaborate.

Reached by telephone Wednesday afternoon, Cole confirmed he was no longer with the chamber, but he declined further comment.

The chamber, which has more than 900 members, now has three full-time staff members, Cornay said.

“We have appointed a search committee that will be addressing the needs of the chamber in the short term and the long term,” she said.

Cole was hired by the chamber of commerce in August 1998. He replaced Brian O’Hanlon, who resigned after seven years.

At the time, Cole was president of the Broomfield Chamber of Commerce, a post he held during the time Broomfield voters formed their own county.

The Longmont chamber conducted a nationwide search before hiring Cole, who had also worked at the West Chamber in Lakewood.

Contacted Wednesday, the chamber’s immediate past chairman, Jay Fernandez, said he was not authorized to comment on the Cole matter, referring all questions to Cornay.

“I would say it’s a sad situation, but other than that, I have no comment,” said Chairman-elect Jim Marty.

No other board members could be reached for comment, but several active chamber members contacted said they were unaware of the shake-up, including Kim Knake of Rabbit Hill Graphics & Signs.

“He seemed to be an all-right guy; he treated me all right,” Knake said. “I really don’t have a take one way or another.”

Mary Murphy-Bessler, executive director of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, and John Cody, president and CEO of the Longmont Area Economic Council, both have their organization’s offices in the chamber building.

Both said Wednesday that they were notified by Cornay that Cole was no longer with the chamber, but both said they didn’t know any details.

During Cole’s tenure, the chamber’s membership grew to more than 900 members, and in 2002 chamber leadership celebrated retiring the mortgage on its building at 528 Main St.

Recently, the chamber helped form the Longmont Area Visitors Association; announced the formation of a Small Business Institute, which is set to debut next month; and held a joint meeting with leaders of the LDDA, the LAEC and local retail developers to explore ways the organizations and developers might work together to solve some of the retail needs of the city, according to Cody.

Stan Zemler, the town manager for Vail, was head of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce for six years and worked with Cole when he was in both Longmont and Broomfield.

“We had a good, cooperative relationship. There was really no competition between us,” said Zemler, adding that Cole is “an interesting character — he was fun to work with.”

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-684-5291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.

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