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Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and its CEO part ways

Chamber announces Kim Smythe no longer in chief executive officer position
Kim Smythe, former CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, shown promoting the Commercial Street Night Market. (News Bulletin file photo)

Kim Smythe is no longer chief executive officer of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.

In a letter to members Tuesday, Jan. 3, the chamber board of directors announced Smythe had left the position and thanked him for his contributions to the organization and to the community over many years. Smythe had held the job for 10 years.

“Kim’s leadership was key during a global pandemic, which severely impacted how we work and live,” said Corry Gervais, board chairperson, in the letter.

In his time as chamber CEO, Smythe was instrumental in starting a number of projects such as the summertime Commercial Street Night Market, and with helping form a new Downtown Nanaimo Business Association.

“We’ve agreed to part company because we saw a different role for the chamber in the future,” Smythe said.

He said he isn’t aware of the chamber’s plans or its vision moving forward. He said 2022 was a difficult year encompassing a great deal of economic uncertainty as businesses and organizations tried to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If they’ve established a vision outside of mine, that’s all fine and dandy,” Smythe said. “We’ve agreed to disagree. We part company [as] friends and [they] say thanks for the service for 10 years, and I say thanks for the ability to work in the community for the past 10 years.”

Speaking with the News Bulletin on Wednesday, Jan. 4, Smythe said his situation had just unfolded over the previous 24 hours and so he hadn’t yet made plans about what’s next.

He stepped down as president of the downtown business improvement area in 2022 and said he will be available to discuss with the chamber any assistance they might need to continue the Commercial Street Night Market, though he did not know if the chamber was planning to continue the initiative.

“I’m going to try and figure out how I fit into the community and where I fit into the community going forward,” Smythe said. “I’m not done by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not in retirement mode or anything like that and I have a lot of stuff going on, a lot of balls in the air.”

The letter noted that the chamber board and staff will continue to serve its members, stakeholders and community partners, that all chamber projects and programs would continue, and that the board will look for someone to fill the CEO position.

“The board is confident that this leadership position will attract many quality candidates, and that we will hire someone who can take our organization to the next level,” Gervais said.

The chamber represents more than 600 member businesses.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo flocks downtown for first night market of the summer

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo adopts bylaw to create new downtown business improvement association

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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