WINDSOR – After having been without a full-time leader since the end of last year, the Windsor Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center plans to hire a top executive this fall.

The chamber had to let the contract for its previous executive director, Hal Beck, expire late last year after 18 months on the job as the slowing economy challenged chamber income from membership dues, according to board President John Reyes, Internet and fleet sales manager for Sanderson Ford in Healdsburg.

"Without an executive director, it is really difficult to move a chamber forward because it is reliant on the board and members," he said.

Town Manager Matt Mullan agreed and said he is encouraged that the chamber is looking for a full-time leader.

"The recession hit that organization pretty hard, and when times are tough people want to know what their dues are going for."

The town is negotiating with the chamber for an $86,000 contract to cover a second year of services, such as staffing the visitors center in the train depot building and producing promotional publications, articles and materials such as flyers for distribution at major local events. A goal for the second year is to expand business and tourism promotion beyond the central Town Green area.

The chamber has been able to fund a president and chief executive officer position, set to be filled by November, by increasing membership by 10 from last year, with five joining in just the past two months. Current membership is 310.

Contact the chamber at 707-838-7285, or visit www.windsorchamber.com.