ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Chamber Of Commerce announced in August that former CEO and President Emily Reneau would be stepping down and didn’t have to go far to find her replacement. 

Atascadero native Josh Cross stepped into the position on Monday, Sept. 21, technically on an interim basis. Pending something very unforeseen, he is expected to shed the temporary interim tag and officially begin to leave his fingerprints all over the city where he grew up.

Due to the Chamber’s need to hire a CEO following Reneau’s departure, they quickly performed a round of interviews but per their bylaws, need to fly the position for a certain period of time before selecting an official candidate. 

“The Chamber Bylaws state that they need to publish the position on various job boards and sites and collect resumes for a period of, I’m not actually sure, but let’s say a long period, at least a month,” Cross told The Atascadero News. “Now, being the incumbent CEO, I think I’ve got a good shot to stick around if they will have me.”

Cross went to Atascadero High School and graduated as a Greyhound in 1996 and has spent his life since then working on the Central Coast. Out of high school, Cross attended Cal Poly and eventually took a job in San Luis Obispo, working as an urban developer for RRM Design Group. After 18 years of city planning, Cross moved north, where he became the Director of Economic Development for the Paso Robles Chamber Of Commerce and is now finally back in the town that shaped him. 

Trying to stimulate commerce during a national pandemic is not an easy task, which is what has Cross so excited about beginning his new position and seeing what kind of difference he can make in the community.

“We are absolutely aware of the challenges that so many of our businesses are facing, especially in the service industry,” Cross said. “We are using this time thoughtfully to figure out a path forward. We have some great ideas. We are trying to capitalize on the amount of remote workers that are working and living in Atascadero. We think that there is a number that is not just working in the county but for Silicon Valley or in LA and other places.”

Cross and the Atascadero Chamber are focused on filling and expanding their BridgeWorks program that focuses on coworking spaces and capturing the underutilized market of at-home workers.

“We are trying to capitalize on the amount of remote workers that are working and living in Atascadero, and we think that there are a number that are not just working in the county but for Silicon Valley or in LA and other places,” Cross said. “Economic development is certainly what we are trying to increase.”

The Chamber will hold a virtual forum Thursday when they host Atascadero’s Mayoral candidates and ask them three questions generated from their various panels. For Chamber updates and to view the forum, follow the @AtascaderoChamber on Facebook or go to https://www.atascaderochamber.org/.

Getting through this together, Atascadero