Tonya Baumgartner of Paris has been hired by the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce to be the organization’s Executive Director.

She will report to work on March 24. Baumgartner will replace Linda Hixson who resigned last year after seven years on the job.

Chamber Board of Directors President Jason Shook said the chamber was pleased with the number and quality of people who sought the job.

"This was in no way an easy decision," Shook said. "There were several applicants that presented us with excellent skill sets that would benefit the Chamber and the community. The committee felt that Tonya’s management and marketing experience would be a great asset to the chamber and the members alike, but her overall attitude and outlook toward the future of Paris was also a major factor. She came into the interview process not only with a list of questions, but also a list of ideas and opportunities that showed us that she truly wanted to make a difference and take the position seriously.

Baumgartner is presently working for a Fort Smith automobile dealership and said last week that she’s excited about going to work for the chamber.

"I really love Paris," she said. "I really enjoy volunteering in the community and I wanted to find something local. I’m really excited about the opportunity."

Baumgartner and her husband Preston have three children and live in Paris. She and her husband owned a pest control business in Paris before closing it several years ago.

"Having been a business owner myself, I know how the chamber can help businesses. I know the chamber sometimes struggles with getting members. I hope to help people see the benefits of membership and we’re going to create some new kind of packaging to show people the benefits of membership."

Baumgartner also said she wants to make some improvements to the chambers website, work with volunteers and stress the importance of shopping locally.

"We have to get people in the mindset of shopping locally because it’s important," she said. "Of course, the chamber needs volunteers. So, people should let us know now what they’re interested in."

Shook said a reception will be scheduled in early April to introduce Baumgartner to the community.