Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - There’s just something about that magic number of 50 successful years in a job or a position that seems to be the perfect time to step down, and that’s exactly what is happening with the Missoula Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kim Latrielle this January.

KGVO News caught up with Latrielle on Friday for a look back at a storied career heading up the organization that champions the business community in Missoula.

Kim Latrielle Shared her 50 Year Story at the Chamber of Commerce

Latrielle said she started as a receptionist at the Chamber in the early 1970s but quickly rose through the ranks by helping out with tourism in Missoula.

“Well it started out when tourism was a big part of the chamber so I was a step-on tour guide,” began Latrielle. “I helped people with their tourism information. We helped them in Spokane when they had the expo to sell tickets out of there, so we were very much a tourism-focused chamber at that time.”

Latrielle said today’s chamber is 100 percent business focused.

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Latrielle said she is Proud of the All-Business Focus with Today's Chamber

“All the programs that we do now are focused on strengthening businesses, helping businesses have a voice in Missoula, connecting those leaders,” she said. “So I’m pretty proud of the organization where we are now; we're rock solid financially, we have great membership support, great leadership, and new staff coming in and we’re training them up, so I'm feeling really good about where the organization is today.”

Latrielle said COVID brought great challenges to the Missoula business community, but she and the Chamber of Commerce were there to help the community deal with the pandemic.

“We gave a voice to businesses that were struggling,” she said. “The restaurant and the bar industry were getting some pretty heavy conditions placed on them. So the chamber stood up for all those sectors. We went to our local health board and elected officials and said, ‘Hey, can we just allow them to have a voice at the table because they care about their customers, they care about cleanliness, it's their future and we think that they'll have some say that would help this process’.”

Latrielle said she has Loved being a Cheerleader for Missoula Business for 50 Years

Latrielle told KGVO that she was a cheerleader in high school, and she drew from that experience to share her fondest memories of heading the Chamber of Commerce.

“For me, the best part of my job has been 100 percent not only my employees, but my Chamber members in the business community, and then also relationships across the state with other chambers,” she said. “It's definitely been the people. It's been a gift. I mean, I was told in high school by my guidance counselor that, ‘You know, Kim, when you graduate from high school, you're a cheerleader now, but you can't get a job being a cheerleader’, and I guess I would tell you 50 years later that I've been cheerleading on business for 50 years and it's been a great job.”

Latrielle will finish out the calendar year and officially step down in January.

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