T. Aaron Carter, the executive director of Humboldt Made who was hired at the beginning of the year and led an effort to reshape the group, has left the position.
“It just got to a point where I felt like I did what I needed to do,” he says. “I couldn’t justify continuing to pay myself. I agreed to [step down] to help protect [Humboldt Made] for the members.”
Carter was featured in the Journal
’s June cover story
, in which he talked about his efforts to define Humboldt Made and what it offers its member businesses and the community at large.
His work was not unanimously supported by the board. Carter began an effort to incorporate marijuana businesses into Humboldt Made’s vision, an effort that he said was “divided.” Following presentations from California Cannabis Voice Humboldt this summer, Humboldt Made decided to hold off on allowing marijuana products into its fold until California’s anticipated legalization in 2016, saying the board feared approval would jeopardize its ability to seek federal funding.
Carter was also behind a push to broaden Humboldt Made to incorporate retail shops and services. He said the board has largely embraced that vision now, in part because the organization stands to benefit from increased revenue from member dues. Redwood Capital Bank and Eureka Payments are among the financial services that recently joined the organization, and Carter said retail shops and real estate agencies have been applying recently.
The organization will also launch a community membership program, where people can buy $25 cards that earn them discounts with Humboldt Made businesses like extended happy hours at local breweries.
Carter said he accomplished most of what he set out to do with the organization, though he also said “the expectations I set for myself were pretty high.” He credited board members Don Banducci, Chris Gaines and Alanna Powell and business members Rosa Dixon, Daniel Bixler and Jodie Marynowski. And he characterized his departure as a mutual decision — he’ll stay on Humboldt Made’s marketing committee.
Humboldt Made President Clint Victorine also stepped down recently, according to a press release, and Banducci was named board president. Powell, the general manager of Tulip perfumes, has taken over as interim executive director.
Carter said the organization may consider hiring for the position in the future. “The money will be there but I don’t think it’s the best use of the money,” he said.
Carter, meanwhile, wants to look into the feasibility of a North Coast co-packing plant that could benefit local food manufacturers, and is talking with the city of Eureka about branding and economic development projects. He was hired by the Emerald magazine — which he brought into a close partnership with Humboldt Made during his time there — as the magazine's business development manager.
From Humboldt Made:
A restructuring of the organization has taken place to maximize benefits for both its business and community members.
Humboldt Made announces additions to the organization as it evolves to better serve its member businesses looking to grow and expand into markets outside of Humboldt County.
After an eventful eight months increasing the breadth and scope of Humboldt Made, executive director Aaron Carter is moving on to pursue other opportunities locally. Aaron brought passion and spirit to his role at HM. He will stay active on the Humboldt Made marketing committee.
Current board secretary and general manager of Tulip, Alanna Powell, will take over as interim HM executive director. To aid her, Don Banducci, a Yakima co-founder and currently an 'at large' board member will take on the role of board president. Chris Gaines, business professor at College of the Redwoods will continue in his role as vice-chair.
Coming on to the HM board is Rosa Dixon, co-founder of Natural Decadence gluten free bakery. With her experience and significant food industry network, the board looks forward to Rosa's participation in helping other like businesses navigate the many challenges and opportunities as a producer here in Humboldt.
As for Humboldt Made sponsored events, Debi-Farber-Bush and Greenway Partners are now HM's event planners and coordinators. First up on Saturday, August 22nd from 12 to 4 is the Humboldt Made Community Card Membership launch at Wildberries, one of HM's founding members. The $25 card entitles the holder to not only support the Humboldt Made community but also offers amazing discounts for many of Humboldt Made's finest offerings. Cards can be purchased on the Humboldt Made website: www.humboldtmade.com and at the event.
Next, Humboldt Made presents Oysters and Ale, Friday evening, Sept. 18th, from 5:30pm to 9:30pm, on Woodley Island across the bay from the library. The 21 and over Oysters and Ale will feature great Humboldt Made food and drink along with live music and a live auction. Oysters and Ale and the Card Membership Launch kick off a growing list of fundraisers, mixers, and buyers-tours meant to showcase Humboldt Made member businesses within our community and to the outside world.
Going forward Greenway Partners will also work with Humboldt Made board members and stakeholders on organizational development, to better utilize resources and maximize returns for members.