Two months after firing its previous executive director, the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce has refilled the position.
The chamber’s 15-member executive board met last Wednesday and selected Jared Hamner, of Grantsville, to manage the chamber’s day-to-day affairs.
“We were impressed with Jared’s presentation he made to the board,” said Jed Winder, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors. “Jared’s background will help the chamber’s board of directors as we take the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce to the next level.”
Hamner worked for the last 16 years for West Ridge Academy, formerly known as the Utah Boys Ranch, a residential treatment center for teen boys and girls.
A native of Indiana who has a bachelor’s degree in business economics from Indiana University, Hamner originally moved to Utah in 1994 to accept a management position with Federal Express. In 1996, he changed careers and started at West Ridge Academy as the school’s principal.
“It may sound like a cliché, but I loved working with youth because they are our future,” Hamner said.
Hamner, who moved to Tooele County eight years ago, also served on the board of directors for the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce for 12 years. However, he said he’d grown weary of the daily commute from Grantsville to West Jordan when he heard that the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce was looking for a new executive director. Hamner’s wife encouraged him to look at a house in Stansbury Park eight years ago and shortly after that they moved to Stansbury Park, then to South Willow in Grantsville where they now live. Hamner said he enjoys the quality of life in Tooele County, including the natural beauty and the rural feeling.
“It looked like a great opportunity to help develop a prosperous community here in Tooele County,” said Hamner. “I knew from serving on the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce board of directors for 12 years that an effective chamber can help businesses to be successful which sets the foundation for as strong community in many ways.”
Hamner is looking forward to bringing the best practices from the West Jordan Chamber and other chambers throughout the country to Tooele.
“We need to engage our members more in the chamber and its activities,” said Hamner. “While chamber members are busy running their own business we need to find out what their passions and skills are and put them to use in the chamber.”
Hamner’s first order of business will be to conduct a performance audit of the chamber by visiting with chamber members, staff, and community to leaders to talk about the chamber and what is has done and where they see the chamber going in the future.
Hamner said he is interested in extending a hand to Tooele County to see how the chamber can help with economic development now that the county has done away with its economic development department.
“The chamber could take a more active role in economic development than they have done in the past,” said Hamner.
Hamner’s ideas for economic development include developing relationships with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to assist in business recruitment along with offering support for existing and new small businesses in Tooele County.
Hamner was one of 38 people that applied for the chamber’s executive director position, according to Winder.
Winder appointed a four-member committee to screen applicants that consisted of Chad Fullmer, owner of Denny’s restaurant in Tooele and first vice chairman of the chamber’s executive board; Chris King from Mountain America Credit Union; Kathy Boltz from HeritageWest Credit Union; and Bill Upton, pastor of the Tooele First Assembly of God Church.
The committee conducted 15 phone interviews and then seven personal interviews before selecting their top two candidates for the position. Those two were then invited to make a presentation at the chamber’s executive board meeting last Wednesday. Following the presentations the board voted to hire Hamner.
“The Tooele County Chamber of Commerce has grown a lot recently and we would like to take the chamber to the next level in strengthening the business community,” said Winder. “We haven’t determined exactly what that next level will be at this time, but we believe that Jared’s experience directing events for West Ridge Academy and his knowledge of chamber of commerce operations outside of Tooele will be very valuable to us as we make plans for our future.”
As executive director Hammer will oversee the chamber’s three-member staff and provide support and leadership to the chamber’s committees and members in carrying out the chamber’s functions and activities, including the upcoming Santa parade, Winder said.
Hamner will work under the direction of the chamber’s executive board which meets monthly. Winder, currently chairman of the board, will relinquish his position to Fullmer in January.
“The chamber is the voice of business in the community,” said Hamner. “And as the chamber helps businesses to prosper the entire community is strengthened.”
Hamner replaces Debbie Winn who was terminated by the chamber’s executive board in September after seven years as the chamber’s executive director.