Submitted photo##Former Chamber president Nathan Knottingham was known to stop for a selfie during events, like this moment captured with two young businessmen, Luke Welliver, left, and Zack Geary, right, during the 2016 Lemonade Day.
Submitted photo##Former Chamber president Nathan Knottingham was known to stop for a selfie during events, like this moment captured with two young businessmen, Luke Welliver, left, and Zack Geary, right, during the 2016 Lemonade Day.
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Nathan Knottingham: A fond farewell

First, a heartfelt thank you. Thank you to so many who were open to accepting a new member to the community, who allowed me to earn your trust, and lead your Chamber of Commerce for the past three years. Thank you for welcoming my family and helping us find a place in McMinnville. We are sad to leave for all the right reasons, and for that I am also thankful.

Guest Writer

Nathan Knottingham served as president and CEO of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce from 2013 to 2016. He’s a fourth generation Oregonian with degrees in business administration and management.

It has been an extreme pleasure to serve the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce as President/CEO. The Chamber is a strong and focused organization that understands why it exists. It’s mission: To support a strong local economy. It’s vision: A sustainable, thriving, community. The city of McMinnville, and neighboring communities, are stronger in part because there is a growing and thriving Chamber of Commerce which is supporting, nurturing, and encouraging business members to do what they do every day in their community. If businesses don’t succeed, then a community will not thrive, no matter the size.

Some people have mentioned to me that I’m leaving some big shoes to fill; however, when I look back I see not one set of large footprints in the sand but a lot of feet gathered to all go in the same direction under the same mission and vision. Leadership to me is not one person in front of the group pulling them forward. Rather, it is leading from the front-middle, encouraging, coaching, calling out hazards ahead, running with the group and, if they start to lag, then slowing down and encouraging them to go farther. This group, the Chamber, will not deviate as I leave because another leader (or leaders) will rise up in the group and continue the work of moving the organization forward and encouraging all along the way.

What does the future hold? That is for you to decide. A new Chamber President/CEO will take the helm and will look to the community for input. That person, as I did, will undoubtedly listen to the history and the wishes and dreams of the community. With that information, they will lead forward into the future, working hard to continue to make McMinnville the great place that it is. Be sure to give this new leader time to earn your trust and openly share the knowledge and experience you have. They will work with your Chamber Board of Directors to continue a tradition set forth long before any of us were working; a tradition of excellence and visionary leadership.

Finally, if I may ask of you one more thing McMinnville. Please be an example to our state (and even our nation) of a place that can overcome differences of opinion and find unity in its people. Don’t divide and faction yourself anymore because of differences of opinion, or push opposing views so far that they become personal attacks and calloused threats.

Instead, do as so many T-shirts, bumperstickers and Facebook posts say: “Celebrate Diversity.” Not just in the ways people choose to live, or personally identify, or love; but also in the diversity of world views or religion, personal history, and plans for future development. Go to the table with your differences, respect one another, and instead of arguing to conquer or change opinion, find the common ground in all things because it is there. And I fully believe that, more often than not, when we can put aside anger, we realize we all want the very best for our community, city, county, state and nation. We may disagree some on how to get there. But by working through disagreements toward comproise, you will find the surest footing and foundation on which to build McMinnville’s future.

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