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Johnston named to state board

She's a familiar face in the Detroit Lakes area, as she pops in and out of local businesses with a big smile and smart suggestion when asked.

Carrie Johnston has only been president of the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce for a couple of years, but she is already proving herself a valuable resource to the area.

Johnston has been appointed to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Executive, or MCCE. The group is made up of nine select chamber executives from throughout Minnesota charged with strengthening chamber organizations throughout the state.

"We meet three times a year, and we work on leadership training and a lot of what we do is help not only those that are seasoned, but those who are new coming into the profession," said Johnston, who received the announcement at an annual chamber conference last week.

Johnston says the honor comes with some responsibilities, including hosting networking opportunities for other regional chamber executives as a way to connect on the issues facing Minnesota and each region.

"I think it will help me with a better understanding of what a chamber can and should be, and that'll help strengthen the DL chamber of commerce," said Johnston. "I hope to learn from others, but I also hope to be a mentor to others just coming in."

Johnston is heading up the 25th largest chamber in Minnesota, which she says means she has to think big and stay on top of the changes.

"In the back of my mind is always the generations," said Johnston. "The baby boomers are starting to retire, Generation X is in the work force and Generation Y is in college, and so what does that mean? How is that changing the face of our workforce and our government?"

Johnston, who accepted the position of DL Regional Chamber President after a stint at the Becker County Historical Society, says her favorite part of the job is being able to connect people, which she believes is important in a smaller community.

"I think (chambers) bring your business communities together as much as you can so that you are one voice and to just be able to focus in on what's good for local business," said Johnston, adding that that can be helpful to an area like this that is strong in tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.

But this wide array of business and all of its players also means Johnston is kept on her feet.

"You never knows what the day is going to throw at you," she said, laughing, "and that can be both good and bad but it's definitely a challenge."