A lifetime resident of Titusville, Marcia Gaedcke knows that the Space Coast is truly the “comeback king,” having recovered from the devasting job losses from the Space Shuttle retirement at the beginning of a national recession. As a passionate and thoughtful leader, her efforts as president of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce are a big reason why things are looking up in North Brevard, and she’s willing to roll up her sleeves and work to ensure the future remains bright.
What inspired you to take the professional path you have chosen?
Many people have inspired me along the way – teachers, friends, relatives. In my interview for employment at the Chamber, I was asked to name one person I admired who was famous or notable, and I answered Lawton Chiles. The reason I picked him is he made it a point to stay grounded and in touch with the citizens he represented in his career as an elected official. He didn’t let the power of his position(s) influence his perception of his importance or self-worth, and he wasn’t afraid of hard work.
How has your past experience helped you in your current role?
I was fortunate to grow up here, so I have institutional knowledge about this community that has been invaluable over the years. I’m a product of Brevard Public Schools (go Oak Park Eagles, Madison Mohawks and Astronaut War Eagles!). For me, it’s about having an impact in the community where I was raised and building a better place for current and future generations so they can have the opportunities to make positive memories and get a solid foundation for their success.
How would you define your role at the Titusville Area Chamber?
I joke I’m the chief cook and bottle washer … but it’s not really a joke. We’re led by an amazing group of passionate community leaders with our volunteer board of directors, and they set the vision and direction for the organization, but the business of the Chamber isn’t their primary responsibility – it’s mine. I have an incredibly dedicated team I have the privilege of working with every day, but in the end, I’m responsible to the members of this organization and the community to provide value and to keep this organization relevant and growing. In many ways I’m running a small business like many of our members. I worry about the same things they do, and this gives me perspective to help them face their challenges and meet their needs.
How important is building relationships with the local business community?
Relationships are everything. We’ve worked extremely hard over the last year to look at how we’re communicating with our members and the community, as well as improving our systems and procedures. Being responsive to input, open to conversation and discussion, and genuinely interested more in the other person/entity than in yourself are key. I constantly remind my team it isn’t about us, it’s about the person needing assistance and what we can provide to get them the results they desire.
How would you define the relationship between the Chamber and the City of Titusville?
There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how much I value the positive relationship we have with the city of Titusville. I’m a big fan of our city manager, and his approach to leadership and development of our city, and he has an amazing team of leaders throughout the organization. We’ve got a solid city council that’s tackling opportunities and challenges in a thoughtful manner, and I’m grateful for my friendship and business relationship with each and every one of them. The Chamber and the city work very closely on many things, including our Launch From Here community brand, and we’re so much stronger and impactful as a result.
What is your greatest challenge?
First, I would say resource development. Maintaining relevance and being innovative and involved in literally every aspect of the community takes a lot of hard work and funding. We’re masters at doing a lot with a little and stretching our resources to cover all of our bases, but it would be nice to not have to worry sometimes. The second challenge is more personal. When you’re in my position, people associate you with that more than anything else, and when you speak or express an opinion, it’s usually viewed as the opinion of the Chamber. That’s a lot of responsibility, and I take it very seriously.
What is your No. 1 goal for the Chamber?
Right now, it’s financial stability and building a solid reserve. We’ve weathered a lot as a community with the recession and the retirement of the Space Shuttle, and the Chamber has suffered along with every other business and organization. We’re in a bit of a rebuilding mode too, growing our membership, increasing our revenue streams, continuing to innovate and stay on top of the latest trends and technology, so focusing on that reserve base to free ourselves up to embrace new opportunities and provide more services is my biggest priority.
What do you love most about your job?
The diversity. I can’t imagine another place where I could be involved in so many different things. We’re engaged in education, advocacy, environment, recreation, social services – you name it. I’ve learned so much, and every day presents a new challenge or opportunity.
How does technology help the Chamber with outreach and other initiatives?
It’s changed the way we communicate, but it has also increased the expectations of our constituents. We’ve integrated texting reminders, targeted e-mails and blogs, and added social media channels to our repertoire. We’re also working with interactive maps and videos on our website and are always looking at new ways to share information and get our message across. Technology is also a top concern for many of our members, so we’ve developed programming to help them navigate their way and make informed decisions about what’s best for their business.
What do you love the most about the Space Coast?
We’re in close proximity to anything we could possibly want, and if it’s not here we have access to major transportation hubs to get us there. I also love the intersection of nature and technology. Seeing the commitment of this community to our natural environment while still challenging the edges of human exploration and technological development continues to be a thrill for me. My favorite place to watch a launch is from my kayak out in the lagoon.