By the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
New Executive Director Alex Ward of the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce fell in love with the region before he got the job.
“It clicked with me when I came for the interview,” Ward said. “It reminded me of home, beautiful and industrious. It has so much potential.”
Already familiar with the beauty and attractions of the communities of Alpine and the Mountain Empire, Ward started working Oct. 15 at the Chamber office in the Alpine Regional Center at 1620 Alpine Blvd. in Alpine.
The Chamber’s Board of Directors and staff officially welcomed him the next day at an after-hours office reception.
“Alex has shown in his short time here incredible abilities and talents, and the organizational skills to take the Chamber to the next level,” said Board Chairman Bob Ring of the Alpine Baron’s Market.
Until he accepted the Alpine position, Ward had been working for more than four years as Director of Operations for San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter Association, responsible for the historic16 ½-square-block entertainment district bordering on San Diego Bay.
The Association plays a key role for such events as the internationally known San Diego Comic-Con. The district includes upscale housing and a wide variety of businesses and organizations.
Ward said his job there focused on improving the pedestrian experience, parking problems and --- his personal favorite ---- creating a Sunday Artisan Market for arts and crafts.
“I spent my time at the Gaslamp Quarter Association staying ahead of the competition,” Ward said. “We focused on the Gaslamp Quarter’s history and attractions to inform visitors of the unique experience they’d find.”
Meanwhile, the Tucker, GA, native said, he said he had fallen in love with East San Diego County’s hills, valleys, mountains and desert while exploring. The exploration included Alpine and the Mountain Empire ---- almost half the county.
The rural romance began when he attended two conferences in San Diego while still living in the East after undergraduate work at Syracuse University in upstate New York and graduate work at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Ward, who had relatives in the military here, said he finally decided to “find all the things wrong with this place so I could move on and quit thinking about it.”
“I couldn’t find anything wrong,” he continued. “San Diego County is teeming with natural beauty and friendly, hardworking people.”
The new executive director said he sees an opportunity now to build on local community pride, individuals, businesses and organizations to help beautiful rural, unincorporated communities with unique attractions do well.
“In other places I might feel nervous without the support of a local government,” Ward said. “Now I’m not nervous in the least. This (Chamber) is a community-led organization that sees value in partnerships. I have no doubt that together we will prosper.”