The Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce has hired a new executive director and is renewing its focus on meeting its members’ needs.

The new executive director, Rachel Hummel, said her tasks will include adding members and continuing to hold successful events, such as the annual festival.

“I’ve got my work cut out for me,” she said.

Eddie Saffell, president of the chamber’s board, said membership is around 100 – “When the economy went down, it really dropped,” he said – and he said there’s a high turnover of businesses coming and going in the city, adding to the challenge.

“I was very upfront with her in that we’re a struggling chamber, and she rose to the challenge, and that alone gives hope,” he said.

The chamber’s role is shifting, too, he said, because the city is working to bolster its Economic Development Council to attract and retain businesses, meaning the chamber can focus on being an advocate for local businesses and being their liaison to City Hall.

Hummel replaces Zach Pross, who “did a great job for us,” Saffell said.

Hummel has a good deal of chamber experience. Last year, she was president of the board for the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce and has worked for years on such events at the Fall Fun Fest, and she’ll bring what she’s learned to Grain Valley.

“I’m definitely looking forward to that,” she said.

Saffell said the improvements to the Main Street intersection with Interstate 70 are huge important to the city, making the corners highly developable.

“Once one corner takes off, they’re all going to take off, I think,” he said.