Dave Hanks, Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce CEO, has announced his intent to retire after serving in that capacity for the last 23 years. Hanks, recipient of the Wyoming State Chambers CEO of the year award in 2017, came to the Chamber in 1995 with 3 main goals.
1) To grow the Chamber into a financially stable organization that relies on multiple revenue streams.
2) To improve the brick and mortar facility to include a state of the art Chamber/Visitor Center that the community could be proud of.
3) To develop and mentor a professionally trained staff while fostering a culture of best practices in all they do.
Fast forward 23 years and his accomplishments have certainly surpassed those original three goals. The recent building renovation has left the community with a facility that is second to none, the Chamber is fiscally sound, and his staff members are all-encompassing; making his decision only that much more difficult. “I could do this job for 5 more years and love it! Going to work everyday is an honor and pleasure because of the people I get to interact and work with,” says Hanks. “The most enjoyable aspect of my job has been to mentor and develop young talent. Watching members of the staff grow into their roles and become engaged as community leaders is very gratifying and it makes me proud.”
Among the distinguished accomplishments during his tenure, Hanks and the Chamber are responsible for resurrecting International Days – a now stand-alone 501(c)(3) non-profit, along with developing the Lighted Holiday Parade, Downtown Farmers Market, and the Sweetwater County Leadership program – just to name a few.
With his leadership, the Chamber also spearheaded efforts with the BLM, Rock Springs Grazing Association, Sweetwater County, Sweetwater Travel and Tourism, and the Green River Chamber to develop the “Wild Horse Scenic Loop Tour” in 2003. The year following, the Chamber received the BLM National 4C’s award for their cooperative effort in establishing the tour.
“One of the things I am most proud of is that the Chamber has made a difference in our area and the lives of those who call the High Desert home,” said Hanks.
Additional notable attributes under Hanks’ vision include spearheading the effort to make the 5th penny tax permanent; thus, ensuring a more reliable funding source for our cities, towns, and county. This later opened the opportunity for the Chamber to serve as the PAC (political action committee) for all 6th penny projects which have impacted Sweetwater County citizens through several million dollars worth of improvements throughout the local communities.
“My Board of Directors, staff, and the various elected officials have all been very gracious and dedicated to achieving a goal of what’s best for the community. We, as an organization, have always fostered cooperation and collaboration across the county, region, and state. I believe our greatest strength has been our willingness to involve others in our efforts to improve Sweetwater County,” Hanks states.
He and the Chamber also encouraged the cities and counties to form Communities Protecting the Green, a committee created to monitor proposed water diversion projects from the Green River Basin. Additionally, the Chamber established the SEDC (Sweetwater Economic Development Coalition) on a county-wide level in 2015 to address the economic development needs on a regional basis. The coalition consists of a partnership between the cities of Rock Springs, Green River, and Sweetwater County. Hanks was awarded the WEDA (Wyoming Economic Development Association) Linda Hewitt Award for economic development that same year.
“Really, when all is said and done, you don’t look back on the accomplishments as much as the relationships and friendships one has acquired. Having fun, enjoying my job, and doing it with people who are vested in doing the right thing has made this a memorable ride,” said Hanks.
Dave’s final day as CEO will be June 30, 2018, which has regrettably been agreed upon by the Board of Directors. Alexie Cilensek, current Board President for the Chamber, states, "As a former employee and longtime friend of Dave's, I am happy to see him moving on to new adventures, but as a member and advocate of the Rock Springs Chamber, I am truly sad to see him leave. While it will be a challenge to fill his shoes, I am confident that we will find a qualified candidate to continue leading our organization."
Hanks offered his final remarks with gratitude toward his biggest support system. “Last, but certainly not least, is a big thank you to my wife who tolerated the long hours and time away from home that this job requires. Without her support and encouragement to do what I love, these past 23 years would not have been possible,” said Hanks.
In search of finding a replacement for Hanks, the Board has assembled a hiring committee. Anyone interested in applying for the position click or email email@example.com for more information. Resumes and letters of intent are to be submitted by email no later than April 20, 2018.