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Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce names Laura J. Pearson executive director

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The Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday named Laura J. Pearson as its new executive director. Mrs. Pearson, 52, of Ogdensburg, replaces Sandra M. Porter, who is retiring.

Mrs. Pearson, who was approved by a 16-0 vote by the chamber’s board of directors, will start her new job on Dec. 2.

She is currently employed as an employment training specialist for Inverness Technologies at Fort Drum, where her specialty is teaching soon to be ex-soldiers job interview and resume-writing skills as they prepare for the transition to civilian life.

She is also an experienced events planner and fundraiser, having previously worked in those capacities at the former Mater Dei College in Ogdensburg - her alma mater - the State University of New York Research Foundation and as president of the Ogdensburg Zonta Club.

The chamber executive director position, Mrs. Pearson said Wednesday, is a perfect fit.

“The chamber is my dream job,” she said. “I love fundraising and I love Ogdensburg.”

Mrs. Pearson’s salary has yet to be divulged. Chamber President Lori A. Smithers said it was still being discussed.

President-elect Michael S. Brashaw said that 12 people applied for the executive director’s position and six of them were granted interviews.

Mrs. Porter, 73, has been the chamber’s executive director since September 2006. She is credited as the driving force behind the increase in chamber-sponsored events, several of which evolved into profitable crowd-pleasers that have helped make Ogdensburg a popular tourism destination. They include the GreenMarket farmers market, the North Country Wine Beer and Food Festival, Car-B-Que, Sportsman’s Show and the Ogtoberfest.

“She has been a very valuable asset to the chamber,” Mrs. Smithers said.

Those events, Mrs. Smithers said, not only help to advance the chamber’s mission of promoting the city, but have also brought more than 17,000 people to the city and resulted in the local spending of $4 million.

“I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Mrs. Pearson said.

Mrs. Porter thanked the board for allowing her “to do something that I truly love.”

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