Osborne to retire as Chamber CEO

Larry Osborne, chief executive officer of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce for more than 17 years, announced Monday he plans to retire.

"I have no immediate plans right now," he said. "I'm seeking a change of pace. Perhaps some travel eventually."

His last day on the job will be Dec. 30.

"We've got some big shoes to fill," said Jeffrey Smeath, past chairman of the chamber.

Even if Osborne's replacement is highly knowledgeable, that person's challenge will be to continue strong relationships with government, business, educators and others in the community fostered by Osborne during the years, Smeath said.

And these relationships are what Osborne says he is most proud of creating. He hopes that this, above all else, will continue after he leaves because it's easier to solve problems when people are respectful and cordial toward one another.

The chamber and city government representatives have sometimes disagreed but "have been willing to sit down and work issues out," Osborne said.

"We all knew that we were trying to do the best for the community as a whole because our businesspeople also live here," he said.

This is why the organization has worked to keep business taxes and fees low, and has assisted in writing ordinances and regulations. It's also why the chamber raised funds to buy lights for the first Capitol holiday tree-lighting ceremony in 1989. Things that are good for the community usually are good for business, he said.

Osborne, 64, has been CEO of the organization since August 1988, when the group still rented a site in front of Carson Mall. It was before the current chamber office was built next to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in the distinctive Old West-style building that it shares with the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We used to be on the edge of town," he remembered.

Osborne believes the chamber -- and the community - will be challenged by attracting and creating a more qualified work force in Carson City and throughout Northern Nevada. This makes fostering cooperation with the furiously growing communities surrounding Carson City and its persistent traffic problems even more important.

Also a concern is "the completed freeway - who knows how that will impact the community?" he asked.

"We don't have major crime and our taxes are fairly moderate. And our growth is managed, but Carson City and all of Northern Nevada doesn't offer the advantages it once did" when it comes to recruiting new businesses, he said.

And what should be done first to improve the region's business climate: Bring in good jobs or skilled workers first?

"What comes first - the chicken or the egg?" he asked.

Osborne also noted there have been three governors, 17 chamber presidents and hundreds of leadership graduates during his 17-1Ú2 years in the job. There were about 400 chamber members when he arrived and there are approximately 1,200 members now.

Osborne arrived here after a stint as the head of the chamber of commerce in Eugene, Ore. He became involved with the business of business while in Coos Bay, Ore. As the part owner of a radio station in that city he started aligning himself with that chamber and became increasingly involved, he said.

n Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.


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