Business & Merchant
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 02:20
Deb Keefer announced her plans for retirement at a board retreat of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors held at the Charleroi Alumni Center today. The retirement as full-time executive director will be effective April 6, 2018.
Keefer has worked at the Chamber since April 1, 1997, first as an administrator for the Greater Charleroi Chamber of Commerce and then was promoted to executive director later that year. Under her watch, the Board made a historic move in 2001 to regionalize the organization, and the name was changed to the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce. The membership in 1997 was 123 members, Keefer recalls, and it now stands at 340. In addition to Chamber member activities, the MVRCC also embarked on several economic development projects that Keefer coordinated, most notably the acquisition and development of the former Montgomery Ward space after the retailer closed in 2001.
The Chamber also purchased dilapidated properties in downtown Charleroi and partnered with Threshold Housing to create a $1.3 million senior housing project which earned a Townie Award from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center in 2002. “I have worked my entire adult life,” she said, “and this job by far was the most fun, diverse and rewarding. It has been quite the journey and I navigated it with some remarkable people.”
The Board of Directors has formed a reorganization team to meet staffing and transitional needs at the MVRCC for the next five months. Keefer will most likely be involved after the April 6 date in a consulting role to mentor new staff and for the management of Chamber properties, including Chamber Plaza and the Trustees Community Park. “We expect a seamless transition and our membership will not experience any interruption in service,” said Jim Protin, Chamber President. “They will receive the same great benefits and programming they are accustomed to,” he added.
Jerry Zahand, Sr. of Highway Appliance interviewed and recommended the hiring of Keefer back in 1997. “We didn’t know each other at all,” she said. “And he continues to be a good friend and mentor to me. He gave me a chance to grow personally and professionally when I really needed it, and the rest is history.”
The Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce serves the business community of the mid-Mon Valley region of Southwestern Pennsylvania. It is a fully staffed, full-time Chamber of Commerce with its office located in Charleroi. Its mission is to provide quality networking and educational opportunities to its membership and to advocate economic development activities that will enhance the quality of life and business climate of the Mid Mon Valley.