‘Hit the ground running’

Turner takes over Lower Keys Chamber

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When Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan K. Miller returned to Big Pine Key days after Hurricane Irma, she had a hard decision to make. With her home in shambles, she and husband decided to make the move north.

“Susan did a great job moving the chamber in the right direction,” said incoming executive director Dave Turner. “I will continue bringing it to the next level for our members.”

As a retired firefighter from New Jersey, Turner was signing the final papers on his house on Big Pine Key only weeks before Irma made landfall on the Lower Keys.

“We were hanging the last picture on the wall when we were told to evacuate,” he said. He and his wife, Monroe County Strategic Planner Kimberly Matthews, repacked their valuable possessions to evacuate.

Regardless of hurricanes, Turner and Matthews knew they wanted to be in the Keys for the fishing and the weather. When the executive director position was posted, he saw the need to help businesses in the Lower Keys move into the future and prosper. With his background in executive management and as a small business owner, the Lower Keys Chamber Board of Directors believe Turner has the knowledge, skills, personality and vision for the position.

“We believe Dave can do an excellent job building relationships with the members and building value for them,” said board member Shane Keween. “He will be a great advocate for the local businesses and the community of the Lower Keys.”

Turner spent his first days on the job meeting members at the annual Business Walkabout, held at Boondocks last weekend. He also has been checking in with the fire department during the recent fires, and having hours-long phone and Skype conversations with Miller learning the ropes.

“I’ve hit the ground running,” he said. Future plans include beautifying the chamber grounds, especially with the post-Irma issues, ramping up the in-house technology, and pushing members’ menus and events on social media.

Upcoming Lower Keys Chamber events include two business mixers, one at Island Breeze Realty on Big Pine Key and another planned for Roostica on Stock Island; the Dolphin Tournament, taking place June 1-3 at Kiki’s Sandbar on Little Torch; and the annual Underwater Music Fest at Looe Key in July.

Dave Turner along with board members and other community members will be cleaning up the chamber grounds of Hurricane Irma debris on Saturday, May 5 starting at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers are welcome to join and meet Turner at the informal event. “Getting this place back in tip-top shape is a huge priority,” he said. “It’s the first thing people see when they come around the bend.” The chamber is located at 31020 Overseas Hwy, MM 31, on Big Pine Key.

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