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Tamarack director settles in to new job

Folks may notice a few changes at Tamarack. That’s because a new executive director is in place.

Jim Browder came on board earlier this month. The former head of the Lexington, Ky. Convention and Visitors Bureau has a lot of ideas to help freshen up Tamarack’s image, though he noted the arts and conference center in Beckley is already known across the United States.

“Being somebody who’s from out of state and has watched this grow over the years, it’s widely recognized by multiple states as one of the most successful operations in the United States,” said Browder. “I’m here to build on that success.”

Browder’s wife is from Hinton in Summers County and he’s made a lot of trips to Tamarack over the years as a visitor. His goal as executive director is to give the operation a fresh look.

“It’s not as exciting as I’d like to see it when you walk in the door. We’re playing with ideas,” said Browder.

For the past week, Browder has been on the floor getting to know the employees, asking them questions and talking to exhibitors about what they’d like to see improved.

One idea that’s already in the works is to find a better way of telling visitors about the artists and what they’re buying.

“I’m a firm believer when you see unique, hand-crafted items it becomes a little more intimate when you learn who made it and where they’re from,” explained Browder.

However, don’t expect too much change all at once. The building’s architecture holds that back a bit.

“Since it’s a circle, if you fix one pod, it affects the next pod and the next pod. So we need a big plan to build towards,” He said.

In the past few years, Tamarack has seen revenues drop as well as a decrease in the number of visitors. Browder said his main goal is to reverse that trend.

“I’m just trying to come in with a little bit different eye and look at it and say how can we continue to be true to the mission of promoting the artisans of West Virginia and at the same time increase the revenues,” he told MetroNews.

Browder said he has no plans to change the jury process for how artists qualify to have their work shown in Tamarack. He said that’s one process Tamarack has refined.

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