For more than 25 years, Greg Carnese has been involved in Magnolia.
“There are people that I have known in Magnolia that were newlyweds that are now grandparents,” he said. “To see that transition to the next generation, and the young people that are moving in, they love Magnolia. They want to see it thrive and be successful, and they want to be a part of that.”
But now, the executive director of the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce is stepping away opting to leave the position at the end of the year. Carnese, who recently turned 62, said he and his wife had been discussing what their future holds, and his retirement comes with the opportunity to travel more, and to get things done around the home.
“There are some things that we’ve just been waiting to do, and now’s going to be the time,” he said.
Carnese said the hope is to have a replacement on board by the time the Chamber hosts Winterfest and Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26. That way, he said, that person can get a taste of what a Chamber event entails, and then spend the month of December meeting with Carnese a few times of week to have a firm grasp of the role in time for the new year.
As for what kind of candidate the Chamber wants as a successor? Carnese said one of the main objectives is to have someone “who can go and knock on doors.”
“We can do all the electronic stuff that we want,” he said. “Send emails, social media, that type of thing. But much business is still best accomplished face-to-face.”
Ultimately, the next executive director will be tasked with continuing to add to the ranks of Chamber members, making the case to business owners of the benefits of joining, along with conveying the work the Chamber does in the greater community.
Looking back on his tenure, Carnese said he’s proud of doubling the Chamber’s membership to more than 100 members in the past year, along with networking with the city.
“The city is very helpful,” he said. “All you have to do is ask”
He also takes particular pride in the “Welcome to Magnolia” sign areas, and said that everything “other than the top soil and the bark dust,” came from within the neighborhood.
“From money raised, to volunteers, to design, implementation, everything,” he said. “It was a Magnolia project and this community continues to tell us that they care about where they live and how we do.”
While membership has doubled, Carnese does wish he had been able to bring in even more to the fold, specifically those that work at home.
“There are architects, there are attorneys, there are accountants, and they don’t necessarily have a shingle outside of a store, but they do all of their work in their office at home,” he said. “They’re the ones that, if we could get them involved in Magnolia, it would be much more creative for the community to have those people on board.”
Though he may be leaving his post at the Chamber, he still has plenty of praise for the neighborhood.
“In my years, I have been able to travel to a number of different cities in this country,” he said. “There’s really no place like Magnolia.”