Sue Payne to step down as Ucluelet Chamber director

Sue Payne is stepping down from her executive director position at the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce.

Her resignation will take effect on Sept 1. “It’s been a good run, but it’s time for me to slow down a bit,” she told the Westerly News. “It’s a very fast paced job and I think it’s time for me to take care of my health and my family.”

Payne plans to remain in Ucluelet and start up her own business “I made a commitment to myself that by the time I turned 50 I would be working for myself again and be able to dictate my own hours,” she said. “That magic number is coming up and I feel that it’s a good time; the chamber is in a really good position.”

Payne has served two tenures as the chamber’s executive director, giving a total of nine years to Ucluelet’s business community.

She moved to Ucluelet on New Years Eve, 1994.

When tragedy struck her family about two years later, the love and support she received from her new community was overwhelming.

“In 1996 my son was diagnosed with cancer and we lost him and this community was really, really, amazing with their support,” she said. “I’ve always stayed in this community because it has been an outstanding community for

support.” She said this support inspired her to seek out ways to pay it forward and one way she found to give back was volunteering with the Chamber of Commerce.

On Oct. 1 1999 her work with the chamber evolved into her taking over the executive director role during a time of tense transition as the community’s economy was shifting and full of uncertainty.

“The late 90’s brought a lot of loss of forestry jobs (and) the fishing fleets were depleted substantially,” she said.

“The community was really feeling it, we lost a lot of families, people had to go where there were jobs and all of a sudden the jobs that were here and the economy that was so robust was now not, so you saw a lot of shops close you saw a lot of businesses close and people were kind of in a flux.”

She said the chamber helped lead the charge towards promoting Ucluelet to visitors and moving from a resource-driven economy to a tourist destination. “We’ve grown, we’ve been able to bring the world to Ucluelet…Even before we had Tourism Ucluelet, the chamber was busy marketing Ucluelet and getting the word out; we’ve always had that mindset that that’s part of our job and it’s worked,” she said.

“In the last 15 years I’ve seen a huge growth and resurgence in community spirit and appreciation and pride within the community; it really shows.” She touted the Edge-to-Edge Marathon, a chamber-run event she helped initiate in 2000, as the chamber achievement she is most proud of.

“What makes it so successful is that it is so grass roots and so community-driven that everybody that comes in feels that and that leads to its success,” she said.

Payne left the Chamber of Commerce in 2005 to pursue other options including starting her own business and working in the Westerly News advertising department but she agreed to lead the chamber again in 2011.

She said she has enjoyed her time with the chamber but is excited to move forward.

“I really enjoyed this job, it’s multifaceted (and) it’s very fast paced,” she said. “It’s very diverse, you’re working with a number of different things all the time, you have a lot of balls in the air…It’s a very busy job.”

She plans to start her own business called SLP Solutions (Strategic, Logistic and Practical) and will focus on her favourite business development attributes of her current job.

“There’s lots and lots of aspects of this job that I really love and would like to focus on,” she said. “There are lots of people locally that have great, great business ideas but they don’t have a clue how to get there or how to do a business plan or a marketing plan and I love to develop that with people.”

She said she is excited about her future goals but will always be willing to assist the chamber.

“I don’t want to leave this organization completely because it’s a great organization, the people are awesome everybody’s got a passion and it’s important to keep that going within our community; it’s important to make sure it thrives,” she said.

A hiring committee will be struck from the chamber’s board to find Payne’s replacement and Payne hopes someone is brought in with enough time for her to show them the ropes.

She encourages anyone with strong communication skills and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment to apply.

“It’s not for everybody but the right person will have a blast,” she said.

reporter@westerlynews.ca