Miller excited about new role with ES chamber

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Paul Miller is eager to begin his new role as the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce’s chief operating officer.

Miller said he is feeling absolutely wonderful since being hired the position, which he will officially start on July 1. He said he is 100 percent committed to this role and to the community.

“I’ve been part of Eureka now for five years, six years, so as far as settling in, I’m just very excited to start the position,” Miller said.

His favorite thing about Eureka Springs, Miller said, is its diversity.

“I like the way the community comes together to treat the guests that come to our town in a very pleasant manner. I think we all try to reach out and make them very comfortable and accommodate them as best we can,” Miller said.

Miller said he will be in charge of recruiting new members to the chamber, along with supporting the chamber’s events. One of the most important parts of his job, he said, is carrying on the mission of the chamber.

“I’m hoping for the most part just [to be] very transparent between the goals of the chamber, being able to lead the different areas of the team as kind of a unified entity,” he said.

Miller said the goal of the chamber is to bring all of the business communities together.

“This is a very exciting time for the chamber. I think there’s a positive and a new direction that they want to follow. But, really, it’s just building upon what’s already been established,” Miller said.

Miller described what brought him to Eureka Springs, saying he and his wife, Catherine Pappas, relocated from Houston years ago. Since moving here, he said, the two have started a business. They have already worked with the chamber, he said, and feel confident in it.

“We’ve had a tremendous experience with the chamber. We were well-invited into the community. We always felt included. We always had that reach back to them,” Miller said.

Miller has spent the last 17 years with NASA.

“I’m currently the supervisor over outreach. I’ve had experience with guest operations. Right now, we’re getting ready to announce the new astronaut core. We do a lot of event support,” Miller said.

He said he’s hoping that he can bring the love that he has for business development and creative business models to Eureka Springs to unify the chamber and the local businesses it serves. Cathy Handley, chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors, said the chamber is excited to work with Miller.

“What we’ve noticed over time, and we’ve heard this from members and non-members, is that nobody ever reached out to them, period. That was kind of surprising to me. I didn’t realize that we had not been doing that. We talked to Paul about that, and Paul is definitely going door to door to door to door,” Handley said. “I don’t care if they are a member or not … he is still going to reach out and say, ‘We’re here.’ We found that everybody’s needs are different and as long as you feel like they’re being met, then they’re happy.”

Handley said she has heard lots of feedback since former COO Tammy Thurow resigned last month. Not all of that feedback has been negative, Handley said.

“[Thurow] did some things very well, as we know, and she did some things not so well. So what we’ve done is people have come to me and people have come to Paul already wishing him the best, and people are excited,” Handley said.

Handley said she thinks people are ready for a new direction.

“I think people know we really do care. We have an amazing board. There’s some great people on that board, and they work really hard,” Handley said.

If the chamber is short on staff for anything, she said, the board is always willing to help out and do it. Handley said the chamber has three new full-time employees and two new volunteers.

“They are 120 percent pro Eureka. They are native-born. They have been here forever. They are really stepping up to the plate,” Handley said. “When you walk into the chamber I think you will get a totally different feel. When you walk in, the people are outside the desk …they are there to greet you, and they are there to help you. I’ve seen just an amazing change.”

Handley said the chamber is doing pretty well financially.

“We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, because we’re cash-run. But we’re actually OK. We’re behind. Tammy did fall a little bit short on our finance side,” Handley said.

Handley said she believes Miller will work well with the finances.

“I think he’s more [of a] project manager type and will watch that closer. I don’t think that was [Thurow’s] expertise, in fairness to her,” Handley said. “Paul doesn’t really have a chamber background, but I don’t know that you have to. I think if you believe in the town and believe in the people and you’re a good business head, then you can run that chamber. That’s why we picked Paul.”

Miller said he feels that he can work with the chamber’s board members and employees to reach more local businesses.

“I told them I’ll rely on their expertise. Again, I have my expertise, but I’m certainly going to take full advantage of every staff member, every board member,” Miller said. “The goal is to wrap our arms around the entire community and let them know we are here.”

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