For Rebekah King, the idea of driving a boat to work isn’t so much a daydream as it is a question of logistics.
Will she be in Bigfork until after 10 p.m., making it a little tougher to navigate the Flathead Lake waters back to her Lakeside home? If so, the boat is switched out for a car.
If not? It’s a lovely morning trip across the lake to her new job as the executive director of the Bigfork Area Chamber of Commerce, a position she took in December.
King, 39, spent years as the resort manager at Bigfork’s Marina Cay Resort, and took the job largely on the thrill of being able to avoid roadway traffic on the way to work.
“I grew up on Flathead Lake, south of Lakeside,” King said in an interview last week. “I took my job at Marina Cay because I could take my boat to work. I live here for Flathead Lake.”
The decision to shift to the chamber position from her position at the resort grew from success. King began working with Marina Cay about five years ago, when new ownership sought to change the perception of the resort from a private marina to a community-friendly facility.
It was hard work, but it eventually paid off, King said. After five years, the resort was running smoothly, and she found she had fewer fires to put out. She missed the action.
“I realized if I stayed, I’d become complacent,” King said.
She started looking for other jobs, including within the nonprofit sector, and didn’t feel pulled toward anything until a member of the chamber’s board of directors said she should apply for the open director position.
A couple of interviews later, King was taking over as the leader of one of Bigfork’s most important economic organizations, but not until she took a month off between jobs.
By December, she was energized and ready to tackle her new responsibilities for the village and its businesses.
“The focus is promoting the businesses that are there and showing the entire valley that there are things to do in Bigfork,” King said. “Bigfork has everything you need.”
It’s not a new idea, but King comes at it with an eye on social media and bringing the chamber’s operations into modern times. Her first order of business in the job was converting the chamber’s newsletter from printed and mailed to digital and emailed. After that, she’s focusing on the chamber’s website redesign, as well as putting more emphasis on social-media opportunities.
For example, King plans to wander the village’s shops and restaurants and create a social-media campaign for the 14 Days of Valentine’s in Bigfork.
She’s also open to new ideas for events and projects, and not just from chamber members.
“To grow Bigfork, input from the community is important, regardless of status as a chamber member,” King said.
It’s also important to start growing a new generation of volunteers in the village, she said.
“Bigfork has been extremely lucky to have a core group of volunteers,” King said. “It’s time for my generation and younger to get involved.”
Face-time with chamber members is also a priority, King said, and she plans to have herself or a board member meet with each of the 400 chamber members in person every year.
Given that she’s only been in the position for a few weeks, King said she’s still adjusting to the scope of her job, but she’s excited. She’s in the process of buying her mother’s house in Lakeside, and her 10-year-old daughter goes to school in Lakeside just as King and her partner, Apollo Guisto, did.
It’s all about life on Flathead Lake, she said, and being an active part of it.
“I’m very fortunate to get to stay in Bigfork,” King said.
For more information on the Bigfork Area Chamber of Commerce, visit www.bigfork.org or call (406) 837-5888.