New Chamber of Commerce Director Brian Flynn says he is ready to start in his new post, with an emphasis on several areas in the organization.
“I look forward to working with everyone in town,” Flynn said.
Board Members of the McAlester Area Chamber of Commerce voted to hire Flynn as the new Chamber director, following his recommendation by the Chamber’s Executive Committee.
Chamber Board Chairman Chris Plunkett said there were 18 applicants for the opening. Four were chosen for interviews, with Flynn ultimately selected for the post.
“He fit the criteria of what we’re looking for,” Plunkett said.
“We totally liked what he had to say, his diligence in researching the facts before presenting a proposal,” Plunkett said. “He’s very big on opening up with the city council, communicating with the county commissioners and anybody’s that’s looking to establish a business in McAlester.”
Flynn played as a left-handed pitcher in the Major Leagues, signed to play with the Miami Marlins, the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers.
He is married to Dr. Kelsey Flynn, a hospitalist at McAlester Regional Health Center. She is also the medical director for the McAlester Fire Department. Brian Flynn said they have been working to help develop McAlester.
“My wife and I have been investing in the community along Choctaw Avenue,” Flynn said.
He said the Chamber Board expressed interest in what he would bring to the table.
“I want to be a voice and an advocate for our membership,” Flynn said. He said that includes communicating what a membership would bring to Chamber members, including a solid benefits package.
Flynn graduated from Owasso High School and attended college at Wichita State University, before starting his career as a pitcher in the minor and major leagues.
“I played nine professional seasons,” Flynn said. His stats show a career 4.41 ERA, with 187.2 innings pitched.
He became a free agent in 2020 following his release to free agency by the Texas Rangers during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. His wife, originally from the McAlester area, had entered the medical residency program offered through Oklahoma State University at McAlester Regional Health Center.
Flynn said when she completed the residency program, they decided to stay in McAlester. During his career as a professional baseball player, he was often away from home eight months a year, he said.
“It was best to be here,” Flynn said of their decision to make McAlester home. They also looked into what they might bring to the community.
“We found vacant buildings and we’ve seen a need for investment in the area,” Flynn said.
They’ve already made investments and renovations in three buildings along Choctaw Avenue. Those include buildings at 202 E. Choctaw Ave., the Yardbird at 1896 at 315 E. Choctaw Ave., and another building at 212 E. Choctaw Ave. that formerly housed a law firm.
That’s heightened his enthusiasm about McAlester.
“The director’s job for the Chamber is one area I could most identify with,” Flynn said. “I think the board was definitely excited about what I would bring to the table.”
Plunkett said the plan is for Flynn to focus on three things: Advocacy and being a voice for the members of the Chamber; community engagement and growing the Chamber membership.
“We really liked his out-of-the box thinking — not only in McAlester, but also in collaborating with our neighbors to find out what works and what doesn’t and bringing it back to McAlester,” Plunkett said. That includes customizing those ideas to work best for the community.
Flynn also plans to talk with current Chamber members about what the Chamber might do better, said Plunkett. “What are things we as a board should be doing that we’re not doing?”
Krystal Bess, the new manager at the Expo Center in McAlester, as well as Chamber president, is working part-time at the Chamber through March to help see the Big V Feeds Pro Rodeo presented by Sam Wampler through to completion. She also plans to assist in the training process for Flynn.
“We’ve got the big event coming up in March,” Plunkett noted. He said the board is appreciative of Bess’ willingness to assist Flynn as he comes on board
“It should make for a smooth transition,” Plunkett said.
Flynn indicated he’s anxious to learn through the transition process.
“One of the biggest emphases for me is I’m not coming here, trying to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “I want to continue keeping the momentum going.
“We’re really excited about the direction McAlester is heading,” said Flynn. “McAlester has a small town feel — but not too small.
“This has become home. It’s a special place for me.”
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org.