After eight years, the Executive Director of the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce, tourism, and economic development office has accepted a new position with the Governor’s Office.
Ryan Starks announced his departure on Friday, October 4th. Starks will serve as the managing director of operations for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. He said accepting the position was the hardest professional decisions he’s ever had to make.
“Really love Heber Valley,” Starks continued. “Love the people, and friendships that I’ve created and just feel like there’s a good thing going on back here. The new job however will be a good opportunity. In this capacity I’ll oversee the finance department. I’ll oversee the compliance and the operations, and I’ll be involved with the legislative affairs. And in this capacity, I’ll work with all other parts of the governor’s office of economic development; which includes corporate recruiting, business services, working with rural communities.”
Starks says he and his family plan to remain in the Heber Valley.
“We love Heber, we’re staying in Heber Valley,” Starks said. “Don’t have any plans to move and I’ll just be among the many other people who commute to Salt Lake for work.”
Part of Starks work has had him serving on several boards and committees in the Valley. Those include the Wasatch Open Lands Board, the Heber City Community Alliance for Main Street, and many others. He says he’ll likely have to step down from most of them.
“Although there may be a couple that allow me to stay on,” Starks explained. “Quite frankly I just love my job and love the boards I serve on and love the cause. So, I hope to stay on it’s not as a board member at least as an active participant in and promoting these causes.”
Starks will continue to serve as the chair of the Wasatch County Republican Party as that position is not related to his job.
Starks worked in Wasatch County during an incredible time of growth. During his eight years nearly 500 businesses join the chamber of commerce, transient room tax, restaurant tax and sales tax revenue doubled. His office also secured more than a million dollar in grant funds to support tourism promotion and outdoor recreation infrastructure.
Starks was also the founding director of the Wasatch CAPS program. He was also fundamental in cofounding the Wasatch Back Economic Summit.
“Great things are happening along the Wasatch Back,” Starks continued. “I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to do with Park City and with Summit County. Really focusing on regional issues and I think the Wasatch Back Economic Summit is a good example of how we’ve been able to start the dialogue and start working together. So, I’m just grateful to live back here. Grateful for the time that I’ve put in and appreciate all the support that I received over the years.”
The Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce, tourism and economic development board are just now beginning the process of hiring a new executive director of the office. Starks says that may include a consideration to restructure the office.
“The board may look at dividing up some of the responsibilities because right now we have an economic development part, a tourism part, and a Chamber of Commerce,” Starks said. “So, even looking at Summit County where they have a county economic development director, and then a private chamber convention, and visitor’s bureau. That might be a model that our board considers. So, they’ll have a lot of tough decisions, but I have trust that the board will figure it out and that we’ll find somebody who’s very capable and very excited to continue to lead the chamber.”
Ryan Starks is set to begin his new position in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development on November 4th.
Read the original story at KPCW.org