He Plans To Focus
On Leatherstocking Trolley
By PATRICK WAGER
COOPERSTOWN – After five years, the man who helped the village declare “We Are Cooperstown” will be stepping down.
Matt Hazzard, Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce executive director since 2014, announced Monday, Jan. 21, that he would be resigning from the position in April.
“I’m most proud of the compilation of successes we had during my time there,” he said. “When I look at the Chamber, I felt we have accomplished some great things and with two great summers ahead in 2019 and 2020, it would give a new executive director some great opportunities.”
During his tenure, Hazzard started Cooptoberfest, fall fun for youngsters Columbus Day Weekend as a chance for adults to sample the latest New York beers and ciders in the evening.
He also revived the Leatherstocking Brush & Palette Club’s annual Labor Day art show as the Cooperstown Artisan Festival, put together the annual Rockin’ Around Cooperstown Ugly Sweater Run.
When he first started, the Chamber was losing members. “When I first came on the Affordable Care Act was adopted and small businesses did not need to go through the Chamber for health insurance,” he said. “So we lost a lot of membership initially, but slowly grew and created a great foundation.”
He continued, “I’m most proud the fact that the staff and I were able to balance out the organization. We created new marketing opportunities with the new Area Map, and created the brand ‘We Are Cooperstown.’ Cooptoberfest has become a staple and much-needed addition to the community.”
He also secured a $100,000 state grant, added educational seminars, and restored Higgins Cottage, the Chamber’s historic building.
Since 2017, he has also had his own business, Leatherstocking Trolley, where he now plans to focus his energies. “A couple of years ago the village put their old trolleys up for sale,” he said. “I knew there was a lot of demand for this and we thought it was a good business opportunity, so we bought two trolleys.”
The success of his operation prompted his departure. “If you told us a couple of years ago that we would run a transportation business, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “Last year our family business did well and had an opportunity to build.
“I’ll be driving now, and so will my wife.”
He plans to expand the business by offering scenic and historic tours, in addition to private trolley service for weddings, conferences and special events.
But before he leaves, he plans to finish the new website and business directory, as well as update the map. Plans for the continued renovation and expansion of the Chamber’s visitor center will also continue.
“The Chamber can still grow and define itself,” said Hazzard. “The Chamber plays a vital role in the community and the new leader can take it in any direction they and the Board see fit.”
Chamber board president Danielle Henrici said the search for the new director will launch in February. “Our goal is to find someone who is forward-thinking, collaborative, and adept at managing large projects,” she said. “Matt will remain with the Chamber till mid-April, allowing for a careful and smooth transition.”
She praised Hazzard, saying, “Matt introduced a number of innovative programs and events that have had a significant impact on Cooperstown’s business community.”