Meet The New Chamber Boss - Julie Parker

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
July 23rd, 2009

Rossland business got a new leader in the battle for economic development this Monday as Julie Harper took the reins as the new executive director of the Rossland Chamber of Commerce.

A transplant from Vancouver, Julie has been living and loving the Rossland lifestyle for the past two years and has high hopes for using her experience and passion to bring more life to the Rossland commercial scene.

Chatting with Julie over the phone this week we got to know a little more about the new Chamber boss.

What brought you to Rossland?

A couple of things actually. In 2004 I met Warren, the owner of the Rock Cut, on a plane to Hawaii and he went on and on about this little village as he called it: Rossland BC. I looked it up a little bit when I went home and was like, ‘wow this place looks great. They’ve got Red Mountain and the skiing’.

Having lived in Whistler from 1989 to 1990 working for Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. I was actually surprised that I didn’t know much about Rossland. Then I was at BCIT in 2005 and did a research paper in tourism management and I believe it was Mark Danes I did an interview with. He had just moved from Toronto to Rossland with his family and he was like “Yeah I love Rossland.”. It took us about two years and then in 2007 I decided to make the move. There were a few criteria that needed to be met and we took the big jump from the city moving to Rossland. We said we’d give it two years and see how it went. I don’t think I’ll be going back to the city. So far so good.

What are you looking forward to in the new job?

Right away I’m looking forward to meeting the members. Already people are popping in and saying ‘Hey Jules, it’s you’. It’s nice that after being here for two years I do sort of get that local feeling and feel like a local. I really want to get out there and meet the members and I think from my background as an event planner and caterer having been in hospitality for well over 20 years that that’ll serve me well. I’m a people person so you know I really want to get out there and talk to them. I see so much potential in this small town. From an entertainment and event planning background I see some really cool things we can do around food and beverage and sports tourism. I’m looking forward to saying hi to everyone and having people stop me in the street and tell me their concerns and all of that.
I watched Whistler change and certainly there is a huge amount of infrastructure there and now I watch Rossland and I don’t want that level of it here either. Going twenty years back though I saw a lot of the same issues that Rossland is facing now in Whistler and I think that gives me a good idea on how to work with it. There is a lot of potential in this town and I would have gone home probably a year and a half ago if I didn’t believe that.

What kind of things or ideas have you got brewing for Rossland that you would you like to get into and try out now that you’ve got that chance?

I think with the arts we certainly have potential for maybe bigger music festivals. Something that would bring some media attention with some bigger name acts. That’s something that I’ve got on the back shelf. Coming from a food and beverage background I know there are a lot of chefs in town that are excited about the Golden City Days this year and I’m certainly going to promote that this year along with business after five and try and organize some more fundraising events from the chamber directly to its members.
This early on though I need to get a better grasp of the job, my board, the things I need to do and then I can start getting excited about special events and how I’m going to start generating revenue in some fun ways. I see Rossland as a really fun town. People here always seem to want to have a good time and I really want to do that and make some money for the chamber members at the same time.

I think it will be fun. I need to wrap my head around the job at hand, but there is a lot of room here and I’ve had some good positive feedback already on being here. I think so far so good and I’m really excited to be in this position.

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