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January 29, 2013

'Building for the Future'

New president, a handyman, sets tone for chamber's year

“This is not your father’s chamber of commerce,” said Bob Heidt of the 230-plus revellers who rocked Cruiseport Gloucester’s ballroom Saturday night for the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce’s 91st annual dinner dance.

It was, literally, a stand-up crowd, leaping to its feet repeatedly to applaud, whoop, holler and hail what emcee Joey Ciaramitaro called an “outstanding year of turnaround” under Heidt, who took over the reins as chamber CEO last January with, by Heidt’s account, a negative deficit of more than $60,000. This December, Heidt finished his first year in office “with a net recorded profit in excess of $90,000.”

Of the “$150,000 positive swing,” Chamber Chairman of the Board Mark Grenier told the cheering crowds, “respect is earned, not given, and we chose the right person in Robert Heidt ... he listens, he learns, and he implements for the chamber.”

“You know,” echoed Ciaramitaro, “you can talk and talk about whatever, but in the end, it’s the money that really talks ... and he (Heidt) took this chamber from big-time negative to a solid financial foundation.”

That said, Ciaramitaro got on with the show — the slide show, that is— with which he revved up the crowd for the main event of the evening; the “coronation” of his longtime buddy and chief collaborator, Ed Collard, as president of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

With his signature tech wizardly, Ciaramitaro presented “the past lives of Ed Collard,” in which the new, incoming chamber president appeared as everyone from Dolly Parton to Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Mick Jagger, George Washington, Superman, and a new face on Mount Rushmore. Tossing away his prepared speech, Ciaramitaro asked the crowd, “Who never says he can’t do it? Who’s always first and last at every event? Who always has a smile on his face? Who’s always got our backs? Who’s (the best man) to lead us into 2013?” — “Ed! Ed! Ed! Ed! Ed!” the crowd roared back.

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