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Viola to lead Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce

The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce has a new face. Cheryl Viola, the event coordinator at the chamber for a little more than a year, became the new executive director of the organization on Feb. 1. Viola said the chamber will be focusing on m...

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Cheryl Viola at her desk in the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce building. Viola officially took over the role of executive director at the chamber on Feb. 1. (Andrew Haffner/The Dickinson Press)

The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce has a new face.

Cheryl Viola, the event coordinator at the chamber for a little more than a year, became the new executive director of the organization on Feb. 1.

Viola said the chamber will be focusing on member retention and increased community involvement by way of charity participation and “breathing fresh air into events the community has gotten tired of.”

She pointed to the chamber-sponsored Festival of Trees last December as one such event to receive a rebranding. It was previously the Parade of Lights.

So far this year, the chamber has hosted the State of the City and State of Education informational sessions and donated a portion of the proceeds from each to the Dickinson Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center for a total of $1,885.

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Viola said a session focused on quality of life will be held in April.

“It’s going to continue on with same kind of momentum,” she said of the chamber’s set of activities. “We’ve got some new initiatives and we’re looking for more events that are being created that will be geared toward general community as well.”

Viola credited her predecessor Jerry Cole, who held the position for three months last fall, for doing the groundwork to prepare for the launch of a new database for the chamber’s members.

Cole, who stressed the importance of social media in his brief time as director, left Dickinson after being hired by the city of Sturgis, S.D., to serve as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally & Events Director.

While her own tenure has only freshly begun, Viola said she’s been kept busy acclimating to the new job while still performing the functions of event coordinator until a replacement can be found.

Moving forward, she said the chamber will be working to raise awareness “of not only ourselves, but for our members” through increased attention to social media channels.

In doing so, Viola said the chamber is “really trying to support small businesses.”

“We’ve got a lot of small, first time business owners in the downtown area,” she said. “We’ll be trying to keep them around longer than some of the others that just weren’t able to make it.”

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