BANGOR, Maine — John Diamond summarized as “interesting” his yearlong tenure as chairman of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce board of directors, drawing laughter from dozens of members who attended the Chamber’s annual meeting Tuesday.
Diamond was certainly busy. He helped develop a new vision statement for the Chamber. He directed a number of changes to the group’s bylaws. He insisted on a closer look at the Chamber’s finances, which were in disarray. He oversaw a contentious change in leadership, forcing the departure of 13-year president Candy Guerette in July and welcoming new president and CEO John Porter just last week after a lengthy search process.
“It will be nice to see my wife again,” Diamond joked.
On Tuesday, Diamond stepped down and handed the reins to Michael Ballesteros, who said the significant changes during the past year helped to strengthen and improve the Chamber going forward.
Ballesteros said his goals as chairman would be to increase the Chamber’s visibility in the community, to increase membership by 5 percent over two years, and to keep pushing for economic development in the region.
“There is a lot of hard work behind us, but also a lot of new and exciting potential ahead,” said Ballesteros, who is director of development and business services at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.
Porter, who accepted the Chamber president job last week and is expected to start Jan. 25, addressed members for the first time publicly Tuesday. As he did during his introduction last week, Porter said the three biggest things the region has going for it are: a great labor force, tremendous capital assets, and research and development infrastructure that is unmatched.
“Those three things can make the region the highest-performing in the area,” he said, adding that he hopes to lead a Chamber that is more customer-oriented.
Also Tuesday, Julia Munsey was named vice chairwoman of the board of directors, and Dan Tremble will return as the board’s treasurer. Other members of the board’s executive committee will include: Diamond, Andy Fitzpatrick, Andy Hamilton, Rod Black, Anne-Marie Story and Lynne Churchill.