An emotional Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters stood before the City Council Monday night. She was there to give her farewell monthly chamber and economic development update.
“My report will be brief tonight as this is my final report to you as the president of the Great Bend Chamber and Economic Development,” she said. “It has been my pleasure, honor and privilege to serve in this capacity for the last 14 years.”
In September, the council approved a new economic development plan for the city, one that replaces a decades-old model. Instead of contracting with the chamber, the new 501 c(6) non-profit Great Bend Economic Development Commission is guided by a five-member board made up of two city and two chamber representatives, and one at-large member.
Barry Bowers and Jolene Biggs are the are city’s members, and Mark Calcara and Mark Chalfant are the chamber’s representatives. They selected Dennis Neeland for the at-large position, and now the five will hire a full-time director for the new entity.
As a result of this transition, Peters is leaving her post. Megan Barfield is the new chamber executive director.
“What joy it was to work with new businesses that chose to make Great Bend home, numerous developers and site selectors, and to watch many of our own home-grown businesses expand, as well as many young and gutsy entrepreneurs who continue to thrive in this community,” Peters said. “As I look back over these years it was my pleasure to work with many outstanding Board members incredible staff professionals, city staff, elected officials on the national, state and local levels, state agencies and associations, the media, educational entities, amazing volunteers, and our very own young professionals.”
She said it was her honor to serve on numerous state boards representing the Great Bend community and causes and issues that are important for a town and state to prosper.
Recently I met with chamber Board Chair AJ Chrest and Calcara to discuss the transition for the new organization. “We plan to meet on Dec. 17 at which time I will go over all of the contacts and projects of which I am currently working, share with the committee my thoughts and suggestions for future economic growth, key contacts that the committee should know, programs that are currently in play, and the relationships that have been established that should continue to develop,” she said.
“Over these years, I learned from some of the very best, worked with some of the brightest, and collaborated with some of the boldest,” Peters said. “The common denominator for each and every project that I had the privilege to work on, was always the dedicated, fore-ward thinking and positive people.
“So, for all of these opportunities and for allowing me to serve in this capacity, I will always be grateful and most appreciative. I wish you all the very best. Thank you.”
As for the future, Peters said she is still finalizing some plans.