Veteran West Roxbury community booster will lead Amherst Area Chamber

Jacob Robinson of Belchertown is the new executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jacob Robinson of Belchertown is the new executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. Submitted Photo


Staff Writer

Published: 04-01-2024 12:05 PM

AMHERST — A Belchertown resident with experience in promoting economic development, leading community events and building coalitions begins his tenure as executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce this month.

Jacob Robinson, most recently program director for West Roxbury Main Streets, is succeeding Claudia Pazmany, who stepped down at the end of February after 5½ years in the role.

His selection was announced Friday by the board’s executive committee, which handled the search for the organization that has more than 400 members based in Amherst, Hadley, Belchertown, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury and Sunderland.

The chamber released a statement on Robinson’s behalf in which he wrote that he is honored to assume the position and eager to contribute to the community, while maintaining the region as a vibrant place to live, work, and build prosperous businesses.

“By leveraging the strengths of the Amherst area’s diverse business mix, I'm excited to lead the chamber's mission and collaborative efforts to address immediate small business needs, while enhancing a thriving and sustainable local economy that truly works for everyone,” Robinson wopte.

“I'm looking forward to working closely with the chamber's board leadership, our members, and the broader community to ensure we all flourish here in this incredible part of western Massachusetts.”

During his five years at West Roxbury Main Streets, Robinson focused on local economic development, offering technical assistance to small businesses, facilitating pandemic recovery efforts, leading community events and championing inclusive commercial planning efforts. He has also served on municipal planning committees and nonprofit boards, and has contributed to Belchertown’s Climate Resilience and Sustainable Growth Plan.

In a farewell message last fall, he wrote that during his tenure there were new traditions created, including Bramble Day and Westie Fest, a holiday market to bring the community together, and with equity-based development efforts and projects, such as a pocket park.

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Chamber Board President Heidi Flanders said in a statement that the mission of the executive committee was to find a candidate rooted in the region who could continue the work the chamber has been providing to the business community. That includes the “What’s Next Greater Amherst” marketing campaign that the chamber has worked on with the Amherst Business Improvement District.

“The board is excited about Jacob’s proven track record in working with business communities and governments, and happy that he resides within our Amherst area,” Flanders said. “We feel his commitment to Belchertown will carry over to all the towns we serve to foster our continued growth. We look forward to seeing what new innovative, collaborative, sustainable and inclusive ideas he will bring to our area.”

Robinson’s past work includes building regional and national networks of business leaders working together to develop and share best practices in energy management and strategy. He's also a skilled researcher and educator on the topics of corporate environmental, social and governance leadership. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental management from Indiana University and lives in Belchertown with his wife and dog. 

His first in-person event will be Margarita Madness, being held Thursday at Interskate 91 at Hampshire Mall.