The Gulf County Chamber of Commerce has a new president.

The Gulf County Chamber of Commerce has a new president.

Steve Burke will step into the position that was filled by Roni Coppock, who has left as chamber president after just under two years.

Burke recently retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel after 21 years of service.

“It sort of was perfect timing,” Burke said. “I was ending that chapter of my life and trying to start the new chapter and I wanted to be involved more in the community.”

Originally from Wyoming, Burke has called Gulf County home for 11 years and has fallen in love with the community.

“It’s just a bright place to live,” Burke said. “I really like the laid back feel, the safety of it, and the friendliness of it. I just enjoy the people here. It is just a happy place.”

The choice of where to live after retirement was easy for Burke and his family.

“I’ve got to experience a lot of different places,” Burke said. “I’ve been to many countries and seen a lot of cultures. We chose this. We could live anywhere but we chose to stay here and raise our family. It’s just awesome here.”

Burke wants to rollover his military experience to help the greater community of Gulf County.

“They (the military) teach you about leadership and teamwork. How to motivate and how to get a common vision,” said Burke.

Burke’s long-term goals for the chamber involve that common vision. He would like the see the chamber work with all organizations in the county, both public and private, to grow the commerce of the county.

In the short-term Burke said he will look at who is in the chamber and how the chamber can better serve those partners.

He will also explore finding new members to expand the chamber.

“There’s a saying we have that a rising tide lifts all boats,” said Burke. “So really I am looking at the teamwork structure of all this, and how we as a chamber grow membership and figure out, together, how to make this chamber more viable.”

The new president is ready to work for the community that has become his home.

“I’ve lived here for 11 years,” said Burke. “But I’ve worked on base and it’s (Gulf County) always been where I’ve lived and where my friends are. Now I’m going to be a part of this community.

“To actually be a part of how it grows and what the future is going to be, that’s exciting for me.”