New director wants to grow Swain chamber

Lucretia Stargell, the new director of the Swain County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, said her goals include building membership and finding additional ways to market the area to prospective visitors.


Stargell, a native of the Asheville area, this week replaced Gwen Bushyhead, who left the post after serving for about three years. Stargell’s background includes stints in marketing, television production and print journalism. She most recently worked as a marketing coordinator for The Nebraska Medical Center, a 689-bed hospital in Omaha, Neb.

Her varied background pleases coffee shop owner Debi Yarrington of Mountain Perks, who said a focused and dedicated chamber is vital to the county’s business owners. Under Bushyhead’s leadership, she said, the chamber appeared to fulfill that role.

“Before moving here we checked out the chamber (online) site, and it made a good impression,” Yarrington said. “And, as a business owner, I was able to just go in and talk to Gwen.”

Stargell said she, too, intends to maintain close relations with the chamber’s members. There are currently about 350.

“I’m approachable, I’m a good listener,” she said. “The first thing I intend is to meet people. I’ve got a lot to learn about the community.”

Scot Warf, TDA chairman and owner of the Charleston Inn in Bryson City, said he believes Stargell will successfully build on prior good work by the chamber and tourism board.

“We felt fortunate she was already living here,” Warf said.

Stargell moved to Swain County in October after her husband James became plant controller at ConMet. The couple has one child, Stenna, who is almost 2 years old.

Stargell will report to both the tourism board and chamber board. Stargell takes over as the county prepares to dissolve — and reappoint — new tourism board members. Warf said the change would take place June 30, with the current five members able to reapply for their positions on the new board.

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