As the year came to a close, the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center welcomed a new leader to its helm with the hiring of Executive Director Brad Anderson.
Originally from California, Anderson started as the new director of the chamber on Dec. 9, taking over for former director Debbie Speakman after she resigned. Anderson sat down with the Homer News last month for an interview about his plans for the chamber.
Though Anderson and his family moved to Homer about a year and a half ago, they had been planning the move ever since they were first taken in by the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea four years ago.
“We did a family vacation up here and just had that magical week,” he said.
Anderson’s oldest daughter, an owner at Summit Physical Therapy, was the first to make the move up to Homer, and other family members soon followed. Anderson said he made the move with the intention to purchase a business in town, which didn’t end up working out. He began looking for another path to keep him in Homer, and said that the opportunity to direct the chamber seemed like it would be a good fit.
“I was just very, very pleased that that opportunity opened up,” he said.
Anderson has worked in sales, public relations and advertising in the past. He also managed a radio station for 12 years and a business journal for about eight years. Anderson said it’s his experience working with small businesses that made him want to apply for the position at the chamber.
“I love working business to business, and those relationships,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of Homer. The reason we brought the whole family up here is that we really love this place.”
Anderson said he wants to be an advocate for Homer and Homer businesses. He spoke of how unique it is that Homer’s chamber of commerce is tied to its visitor center.
“I think I can relate well to what it’s like to be a visitor and just all the fun, beautiful aspects of Homer that we can promote,” he said.
Anderson talked about a few things the chamber provides beyond marketing and fun local events that people might not know about.
The chamber provides resources not only for people looking to visit Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, but people like Anderson who are interesting in potentially moving here. The chamber can serve as a middle man that can connect people Outside with other businesses and resources that can get them the information they would need in order to make a move, he said.
Another important job for the chamber is representing Homer to travel and tourism councils and associations within the state of Alaska, not just in the Lower 48.
“A big part of our visitors do come (from) throughout the rest of Alaska,” Anderson said. “So we want to continue building those relationships with those areas to promote what we have here.”
Anderson said he’d like to introduce more local events and programs to help support Homer businesses. Whether businesses need help with operations, networking or staying up to date with changing laws that might affect them, Anderson said the chamber should be there to help them.
Providing more networking opportunities for Homer businesses is also on Anderson’s radar.
Anderson praised the current chamber and visitor center staff, as well as the governing board, for the work that’s already been put in at the chamber.
“It’s a stable organization,” Anderson said. “So now we can focus on growth.”
One aspect of that growth will be figuring out how to replace the annual Jackpot Halibut Derby, which the chamber announced in 2019 was ending. Anderson said the chamber is looking at a smaller tournament held around the same time as a replacement, but that the staff will have to keep a close eye on changing regulations when it comes to halibut fishing in order to make a derby replacement event viable.
Anderson also spoke about Homer’s culinary atmosphere and options as an area to potentially be promoted more. He said locals know where to get good food in Homer and that they enjoy it, but that tourists might not be as aware of the local culinary options.
“I’d love to find ways to continue exposing that unique aspect we have here,” he said.
Focusing on Homer’s downtown area along Pioneer Avenue will also be a goal for Anderson, in terms of making sure visitors aren’t simply pointed to the Spit as soon as they get to town. He wants to make sure tourists get a fuller picture of Homer when they visit.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.