William Blackburn, a Divide resident and a member of the Woodland Park RE-2 School Board, has received the nod as the new executive director for the Cripple Creek/Victor Chamber of Commerce. Besides heading the chamber, he will lead the district’s economic development efforts. Like many groups in the region, such as Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, economic development activities have been placed under the helm of the chamber. According to Chamber President Mike Shoaf, who also serves as the branch manager for Community Banks of Colorado, the chamber board recently decided to include economic development as a key subcommittee.
For the last year and a half, the district has featured both active chamber and economic development groups in efforts to generate more business activity and networking opportunities and to pursue future opportunities for attracting new companies and retaining current employers. At one time, the chamber boasted of nearly 150 members, an impressive statistic considering that the town didn’t have an active chamber for about 15 years. The economic development coalition, meanwhile, developed a strategic plan.
The newly-created position is part of a new coordinated approach that gained the endorsement of community and political leaders in southern Teller. The job selection committee was headed by Mary Bielz of Community of Caring and Dan Smith of Black Hills Energy. Blackburn, though, will have to get his feet wet quickly. In the last few months, chamber member activities have come to a standstill with a new board and a slight reorganization.
According to Shoaf, one of Blackburn’s main initial marching orders will consist of reactivating chamber activities and membership. Also, the chamber this year is taking a more pro-active role in dong special events. It played a key role in orchestrating the Cripple Creek Ice Festival. This year, Cripple Creek wants to feature a lot more regular events, such as chili cook-offs.