By David Lias
When the new year arrives, if all goes as planned, Steve Howe will have a new job.
Howe, who has served as executive director of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company (VCDC) since May 2008, will transition into a new position at the organization – project manager for economic development.
Howe and VCDC Board President Gerry Tracy released this statement to VCDC members last Thursday:
“After many thoughtful conversations with the board of directors over the past several months, Steve Howe has chosen to transition from his role as executive director, effective Jan. 1, 2014, and assume the role of project manager for economic development. The new role will focus on special projects, such as construction of the Eagle Creek building, Bliss Pointe Housing Project, Vermillion NOW 2 capital campaign, as well as potential new opportunities that arise.
“The decision by Steve to step down as director was made solely for personal, not organizational reasons. This new arrangement has the full support of the board and we are glad to have Steve remain as a VCDC employee. To ensure continuity of the organization, the board of directors will immediately begin the search for a new executive director.”
“There is a lot of stuff going on, and with the Chamber of Commerce, the visitor and tourism activities, the economic development and all of the different roles that the (VCDC) organization plays, I think that making this transition and having someone focus on these special projects is really necessary,” Howe said in an interview with the Plain Talk. “We have so many projects going on, and you get stretched so thin, you’re not giving everything enough attention.
“So that’s how we worked through this,” he said. “I wanted to step back from the executive director role, but still find a way to be engaged with the organization. A lot of these projects are very near and dear to me; they are things I’ve worked very hard to start and so I don’t want to leave them aside. I’m glad the board is willing to let me step back and focus on the areas of economic development that I’ve been most active in. I want to be able to focus on those and be able to make sure those projects get done with the attention they need.”
Under Howe’s leadership, the VCDC was successful with its Vermillion Now! economic development campaign, which, in turn, helped expand existing businesses, such as Masaba, and bring new businesses to the community, including Alleviant, Builder’s Choice and Eagle Creek.
Howe is currently busy with the planning and development of the new Bliss Pointe housing project in western Vermillion, and is working to improve the city’s infrastructure, including street construction and extending water and sewer utilities into the Brooks Industrial Park.
Howe said if a new executive director hasn’t been hired by the beginning of next year, he will continue in that role on an interim basis until the that vacancy is filled with a full-time director.
He and the VCDC board have been discussing this transition for approximately a year. Howe sought the new role, in part, to be able to spend more time with his family.
“It’s certainly not a case of me being unhappy with the organization or being unhappy with the direction of the community,” Howe said. “I want to find ways to keep moving the community forward and have that personal life balance as well.”