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Brooke Rouse to Leave St. Lawrence County Chamber; Tiffani Amo and Kathryn Puleo to Carry on Tourism Mission

Sep 11, 2023

Outgoing St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director Brooke E. Rouse, has stepped down from her job after 9 years leading the organization. Brooke, who started as the chamber's Executive Director in June of 2014 with a focus on tourism, will be moving with her family to Saratoga Springs to be closer to her family.

Rouse first came to Canton as a student at St. Lawrence University. She has a master's degree in tourism and hospitality management from the University of the West Indies in Barbados. During her time with the chamber, Rouse said she focused on getting people to see the possibilities and depth of a tourism economy. "I've really wanted to help people understand the destination mindset and the opportunities that brings for economic development," she said.

Being a destination does more than benefit tourists, she said. It also improves the quality of life for residents. "I think we have come a long way since I started in the number of people understanding what tourism means here," she said. "Early conversations were kind of a struggle. People didn't think of this space as a destination."

Rouse said she has also worked to develop partnerships and opportunities. "We've invested a lot of money in building a marketing infrastructure to provide opportunities to those that want to leverage the opportunities," she said, citing STLC Trails, a website that catalogs the myriad trails in St. Lawrence County, from hiking and cycling to snowmobiles and ATVs, and the Fish Cap website which has a tremendous amount of information and features many areas.

"We need to be more connected with our partners," Rouse said. "There are so many community champions across the county doing great work and we just want to be their promotional arm and guide them towards what they need," Rouse said. "It is so critical to building a destination."

The chamber is close to launching a booking website that will allow local businesses that don't have a way to book rooms, events or experiences online an easy way to do so and to connect different type of businesses on the same platform. The latest effort is a sports tourism project, which will produce a playbook for area organizations to use when developing sports events to draw in tourists.

"I was doing a lot for a long time, which wasn't sustainable," Rouse said. "The tourism efforts and financial support have increased substantially from grants and increased county funding and so with that, we have been reinvesting that money, but tourism takes some human element to do it properly," Rouse said. "We reorganized coming out of the pandemic because we had to lay off some people," Brooke said. "We had to look at how things were going to be different going forward and decided upon a dual leadership with an executive director of the chamber and a director of tourism."

With her departure, Tiffani F. Amo, the newly hired interim Tourism Director and Kathryn L. Puleo, hired earlier this year as the Destinations Services Manager, will be running the tourism function of the chamber. 

Amo, the Komodo Media Web Design owner, has worked for the chamber as an independent contractor for almost five years. An Ogdensburg native, Amo first came to the chamber because she said she was impressed with its digital presence. Shortly after that, she began working on the ever-growing website.

Her mission, she said, would be to make the most of the groundwork Rouse has done. "I like what Brooke has going on. We have always shared ideas and a vision for things," she said. "There is a lot of opportunity and possibility and many things that I know Brooke wanted to accomplish. I want to do justice to that."

Puleo, a formerly worked in marketing for Boston Properties, a class A office real estate firm that includes the Prudential Center, started working full-time for the chamber in January. "I am very supportive to the tourism assets in the county. So if anyone has any questions like, 'Where do I hold an event? How do I hold an event?' I can help," she said.

Puleo helps businesses promote events to people traveling to the county and maintains the chamber's online event calendar. She can help people holding events find tents, toilets, or other supplies, and her position is a crucial element in creating a destination in St. Lawrence County, Rouse said.

Brooke and her husband, Charles F. Rouse, will continue operating their Canton businesses, Grasse River Outfitters, an outdoor recreation store, and 24 East Main, a bed-and-breakfast.