New Ferndale chamber director looking to promote the city

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 14, 2017

FERNDALE — The Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce has brought in a new executive director who’s looking to help promote the city.
Matt Zook, from Mackinaw City, was selected to run the chamber in April and began his job May 8. He previously was the director of the chamber in Mackinaw City for 14 months before coming to Ferndale.

Zook said he heard about the job from a friend and that he always had an interest in coming down to the metro Detroit area at some point.

During the interview process, Zook told the chamber board that while they’re a business association, he sees beyond just promoting businesses.

“I also see it’s very important to have community involvement, and I am someone who is very involved with the building relationships with city government, the DDA,” he said.

Along with his experience heading a chamber of commerce, Zook also has a background in tourism, previously working with Universal Studios and Hilton.

“I’m their promoter. … I want to promote Ferndale,” he said. “It’s known as a regional place, but we need to get people that are visiting from the area to come here and shop and dine and do what they do. That’s what kind of happens in Ferndale. It’s a great place to hang out.”

Ferndale Area Chamber Chairman of the Board Jerome Raska said he’s excited for Zook’s vision and energy in running the association.

The chamber received more than 100 qualified résumés before selecting Zook, Raska said, but what stood out to him was Zook’s experience in running a chamber comparable in size to Ferndale’s.

“He also comes from a chamber that represented a wider area than just the city, which is kind of the way Ferndale is set up, because we’re the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce. So that was something that we thought was a good feature as well, because you’re not representing just one community boundary.”

In addition to that, Raska added that what stood out was the feeling that Ferndale is on a fast pace for development, and Zook has a background in working with that sort of development. Plus, he brings tourism industry experience.

“We really feel that Ferndale is poised to be a community that can promote tourism,” Raska said.

“Detroit is definitely on the increase, and when those people come into town, the first thing they say is, ‘Where do we need to go while we’re here? Where can we go visit? What can we go see?’ And we want Ferndale to be one of those destinations.”

Zook said one thing he’s currently working on is building an ambassador program within Ferndale, which would involve people who act on the chamber’s behalf in a multitude of functions, from ribbon cuttings to recruiting endeavors.

“They’re kind of the energy, the life and the blood of a chamber,” he said.

“They can be members of the community. They don’t have to be business members or anything like that, and they kind of come in and do things from being involved in events, having a say in some of the committees that go on, to going out there recruiting new members. They’re just a positive energy.”