Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 7:01 am | Fair 38º

 
 
 
 

Business

Lompoc Native Set To Retire as Chamber of Commerce Leader

Ken Ostini announces plan to leave job he has held for more than five years

Lompoce native Ken Ostini is retiring at the end of the year as president and CEO of the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. Click to view larger
Lompoce native Ken Ostini is retiring at the end of the year as president and CEO of the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

After more than five years promoting businesses in the city he loves, Ken Ostini plans to leave his job leading the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Ostini, 66, recently announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31, as president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce.

“This has a been a fun job,” Ostini said. 

He accepted the job after retiring from a long-time stint working at Vandenberg Air Force Base

With three young grandchildren and one more on the way, Ostini said he decided to retire now to have the freedom to visit them. 

"Life’s too short to not relax a little bit and enjoy things,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed this job, don’t get me wrong. It’s nothing to do with the job.”

When he first started, the board urged him to focus on connecting with the business community, letting them know the Chamber of Commerce was ready to help them succeed.

“I think the creation of Explore Lompoc was huge, and I was on the ground floor of that when that was organized,” he said. “ To see it continue to grow, it’s very exciting. I think that’s one of the best things that happened to Lompoc in a long, long time.”

Explore Lompoc, formed by hotel and motel operators, promotes the city to tourists, while a separate organization, Explore Lompoc, works with the Chamber of Commerce.

“The partnership with them has been really big,” Ostini said. 

Ostini is a native of Lompoc — “I’m proud to say both my mother’s family and my father’s family came to the Lompoc Valley over a hundred years ago.”

After Councilman Dirk Starbuck launched his “I like Lompoc” based on a throwback button to the 1960s, Ostini decided it was time to “up our game,” 

“I don’t just like Lompoc, I love Lompoc,” he said. “So I had these buttons made and I’ve given thousands of them away, thousands of them.”

Raised on a nearby farm, he graduated from Lompoc High School in 1968.

He attended Allan Hancock College before serving three years in the U.S. Army. 

After his military stint, Ostini attended California State University, Long Beach, majoring in recreation administration.

He returned to his hometown, working for the Lompoc Recreation Division before the job became a victim of Proposition 13. 

After other jobs in Lompoc, he was hired to work at the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex, initially as a correctional officer before he was loaned to the facility's recreation program.

In 1982, he began working at Vandenberg as Youth Center director for more than two years, before landing a job in Washington, D.C., in the military Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs.

After 18 months in the East Coast job, he learned the recreation services slot at Vandenberg had became vacant — and that he qualified for the assignment at the base in his hometown.

“It worked out great. I was very, very, very fortunate,” said Ostini, who retired as chief of the Airman & Family Services Flight.

One aspect that helped him succeed in the chamber job, Ostini said, was his familiarity with the community and military. 

“I think that was huge,” he said. “I’d been active in the community in different capacities over the years, so I think that was important. I tell people all the time, I may not know much, but I know somebody that does.” 

“That and my connection to the military have been very, very big,” said Ostini, who serves as 30th Space Wing honorary vice commander and 381st Training Group honorary commander.

The Chamber of Commerce board of directors has launched a search for his replacement, said Alan Grant, board chairman.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” Grant said of Ostini. “He has deep roots in the community, and he had experience with Vandenberg Air Force Base, and with the agricultural community. He was just uniquely qualified for the job he did.” 

The organization has started the search for Ostini’s replacement, and hopes to have someone in place by the end of the year, Grant added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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