Dear McMinnville,
First, a heartfelt thank you.  Thank you to so many who were open to accepting a new member to the community, who allowed me to earn their trust, and lead their Chamber of Commerce for the past 3 years.  Thank you for welcoming my family and helping us find place in McMinnville.  We are sad to leave for all the right reasons and for that I am also thankful.
It has been an extreme pleasure to serve the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce as President/CEO.  The Chamber is a strong and focused organization that understands why it exists.  Their Mission: To support a strong local economy.  Their Vision: A sustainable, thriving, community.  The city of McMinnville, and neighboring communities, are stronger in part because there is a growing and thriving Chamber of Commerce which is supporting, nurturing, and encouraging business members to do what they do every day in their community.  If businesses don’t succeed, then a community will not thrive no matter the size.
What does the future hold?  That is for you all to decide.  A new Chamber President/CEO will take the helm and will look to the community for input.  That person, as I did, will undoubtedly listen to the history and the wishes and dreams of the community.  With that information they will lead forward into the future working hard to continue to make McMinnville the great place that it is.  Be sure to give this new leader time to earn your trust and openly share the knowledge and experience you have.  They will work with your Chamber Board of Directors to continue a tradition set forth long before any of us were working; a tradition of excellence and visionary leadership.
Finally, if I may ask of all of you one more thing, be an example to our State (and even our Nation).  Don’t divide and faction yourself because of differences of opinion, or push opposing views so far that they become personal attacks and calloused threats.  Instead do as so many t-shirts, bumper stickers, and Facebook posts say: “Celebrate Diversity.”  Not just in the ways people choose to live, or personally identify, or love; but also in the diversity of world views, personal history, and plans for future development.  Go to the table with your differences, respect one another, and instead of arguing to conquer or change opinion find the common ground in all things because it is there.  And I fully believe that more often than not, when we can put aside anger, we all want the very best for our Community/City/County/State/Nation, we just may disagree on how to get there.  Find the common ground in each disagreement and you will find the surest footing and foundation on which to build your future.
Nathan Knottingham
Former President/CEO of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce