Destination Bellaire: Retiring chamber director content to stay close to ‘home’

Dave Lein, Editor

Courtesy photos

Retiring Bellaire Chamber of Commerce Director Patti Savant (right) and new Chamber director Sue Palmisano are pictured last week distributing this year's new ABC guides, now available at businesses throughout Alden, Bellaire, Central Lake, Eastport and Mancelona. After 12 successful years as director, Savant is retiring on June 1.

BELLAIRE – There is no “i” in Patti.

Well, there is, but don’t tell that to Patti Savant. She essentially despises the letter and doesn’t want anything to do with it.

“Nothing I’ve done in my life was done without the help of lots of people,” Savant said. “They did it. I’m just fortunate to have been a part of it.

“Everything that’s ever been accomplished or achieved by the Bellaire Chamber of Commerce has been a team or group effort,” she stated. “The only thing I have contributed is to organize or lead that team.”

Savant, who successfully led the chamber as executive director for the last 12 years, will officially retire on June 1. A special party was held in her honor on Tuesday afternoon. Her successor, chosen by the board after an extensive interview process is Sue Palmisano. To get up to speed, Palmisano has been working with Savant and chamber representative Rachel Krino over the last couple of weeks.

Savant’s earlier comments came after she was asked about what she felt were her biggest accomplishments during her tenure.

“I’ve never liked the word ‘I,’” she emphatically stated. “I couldn’t accomplish anything without a great chamber board – going back to when I was hired and Jackie Tarrant was the president to now – and a great community.”

Savant did say that some of the programs and events began during her time at the chamber have had a very positive impact on the village and its businesses.

“I think a key one was the Destination Bellaire marketing program,” she said. “That began not long after I started. It has definitely brought more exposure and revenue to the community. But it wouldn’t have ever happened without a lot of businesses coming together – supporting and investing in the initiative. That campaign really helped put Bellaire on the map, and it has helped us reach out to so many more opportunities than ever before.

“Essentially, it is a perfect example of a great (ongoing) campaign of coming together to market our area and its many resources.”

Savant said another key effort was Paddle Antrim, which she said has really helped area chambers come together – highlighting each community along the Chain of Lakes – especially during Paddle Antrim’s main event each September.

Additionally, Savant noted that she’s enjoyed helping create and/or enhance the chamber’s four primary events held each year, including: the Rubber Ducky Festival, Scarecrow/Harvest Festival, Holiday Gift Fair and Light Up the Night/Soup Cook-Off.

“Of course, we have other smaller events and activities throughout the year, but those are the big four – along with Paddle Antrim,” she said. “Some are geared toward visitors; others simply help bring the community together for some fun.”

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