MILFORD — In the past six years, Tracy Hutchins has seen her share of pumpkins, fireworks and grant applications, but now the executive director of the Milford Improvement Team has left her post and is heading up the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Hutchins has been the driving force behind six years of Great Pumpkin Festivals and other annual events, has acquired grants for improvements around the Milford Oval, and has often served as a liaison between local businesses and town government.
She is now taking the skills she’s learned as director of the Milford Improvement Team (MIT) to the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce, where she said she will continue to promote businesses, plan events, and bring new faces to the area.
Hutchins, who was hired to replace former Executive Director May Balsama at the chamber, said that the timing was just right to begin a new career. She got her feet wet working with nonprofit organizations as a consultant offering advice for ecological projects, and began branching into areas like grant writing and event planning.
She was offered a job as the director of the Wilton Arts and Film Festival, and then went on to become director of the Wilton Main Street Association, which she held for four years before going to Milford.
“I realized I liked having a real job,” she said.
When Balsama announced she was moving on from the chamber to try her hand at new ventures, Hutchins applied for the position.
“In this role, I can take what I loved doing in Milford and apply it to a whole region,” she said.
The Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce includes 11 small towns in the region, and the goal is to promote not only the businesses, but the area as a whole to would-be visitors, shoppers, investors and new businesses, Hutchins said.
Filling Hutchins’ role back in Milford is Wendy Hunt, the former community development director for Opportunity Networks, a nonprofit organization that helps disabled adults develop life skills and find meaningful employment.
Hunt’s first day on the job at the Milford Improvement team was on Monday, and that evening she gave her first presentation to the town’s budget committee. Hunt said she’s excited about the challenges in store for her, from organizing the Great Pumpkin Festival, to creating new events and seeking ways to help the town of Milford through grant writing and economic development.
“It’s just something I love doing,” said Hunt.
Hunt said she’s been meeting with Hutchins for several weeks in order to get up to speed, and she’s received great support from the board of directors and the town as she began her first week.
Town Administrator Guy Scaife said the town benefits from the efforts of both the Milford Improvement Team and the Chamber of Commerce.
“The change is a great career opportunity for both ladies; they are both very talented, and I am sure will do very well in their new positions,” Scaife said.