Kinetic energy: The energy possessed by a body because of its motion, equal to one-half the mass of the body times its speed — American Heritage Dictionary.
UTICA — Pamela Germain Matt is the embodiment of kinetic energy. Matt, the executive director of the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce, is a slight woman, thus requiring, according to the law of physics, high speed to achieve her dynamism. Because she also never slows down, one is reminded of the energizer bunny.
Matt, an attorney, brought her energy to the chamber position in March 2012, when she became the first woman in 115 years to head the nonprofit business group. “I’m passionate about everything,” Matt declares … “I came to the chamber to grow the membership and to make changes.” The chamber is comprised of business and business-oriented members dedicated to the development of a prosperous economic climate that enhances commercial growth and the quality of life in the Mohawk Valley, according to the chamber’s vision statement on its website.
In her short tenure, the Mohawk Valley Chamber has made a number of changes. “Last June, we joined with Centerstate CEO in Syracuse to form an alliance, which includes the Cayuga [County] Chamber [of Commerce]. Jane Amico, Andrew Fish, and I discuss [monthly] regional issues, work together to recruit businesses to the area, and coordinate our legislative agenda to provide a unified voice for the region’s business community … The Mohawk Valley Chamber partners with Benefits Specialists of New York, an arm of Centerstate CEO, to offer our members health-care benefits under a marketing/referral agreement,” says Matt. Amico is vice president of chamber services at CenterState CEO while Fish is executive director of the Cayuga County Chamber.
Matt is also energized by recognition of her chamber at the national level. “Because of our accreditation last year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we have been chosen to sponsor the U.S. Chamber’s Center for Women in Business event on October 2 here in Utica. The program focuses on women in leadership roles. It’s a great honor both for the Chamber and for the community,” says Matt.
Change is also apparent in the increased number of women members. “Women are playing a greater role in the [Mohawk Valley] Chamber,” continues the executive director. “We see more [females] at our Business After Hours events, which always draw more than 100 people. They participate in our cash mobs, where our members show up at a local business with $20 to spend on a member-merchant.”
Change can be seen in the recent launch of “Catalyst, Watch US Grow.” The group is comprised of area young professionals who want to promote a positive image of the region, promote local pride, create events for their peers, and foster professional development. The new organization is headed by a 13-member steering committee.
“Helping business to prosper in a sluggish economy and growing regulatory oversight is a challenge,” says Matt. “But we must be doing something right. Our membership is growing; it’s now at 700 members. [On average], we have 10 new members join the chamber every month … What’s really exciting is that the new members are coming on their own [volition], not because we solicited their membership.
John F. Kenealy, the chairman of the Mohawk Valley Chamber board and a partner at the Utica law firm of Helmer Johnson Misiaszek & Kenealy, confirms Matt’s energy level. “Pam is engaged everywhere in the community, giving a [high profile] to the chamber. Her actions give relevance to our members,” he says.
Matt was raised in Pittsburgh and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. She earned a law degree from Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh and began her career as an employment lawyer for Alcoa. Following her move to Utica, Matt held development positions with area colleges and was the human-resources director at Mohawk, Ltd.
In 2012, the Mohawk Valley Chamber generated net revenues of $287,857 and expenses of $293,562. The staff includes five full-time employees. Its headquarters is located at 200 Genesee St. in downtown Utica.
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