This Friday is Lynn Scarlett’s last day as the Nevada Chamber of Commerce’s executive director.
Scarlett, 61, started at the Chamber in October of 2012 and thought it would be her final career move. “I was excited about the job. I thought it would be a great way to give back to my community,” she said.
But the finality she once saw in her job all changed this past spring and summer, when a committee, formed through the Chamber, started pursuing a berth in the Main Street Iowa program. The committee announced that, if successful in their bid, Main Street Nevada would absorb many functions of the Nevada Chamber (which would no longer exist) and seek to hire a director.
With no guarantee that she’d be hired as the Main Street Nevada director, Scarlett started looking for a new job and was offered an administrative assistant/receptionist position with Clapsaddle-Garber, a civil engineering firm in Ames.
She sees positives about her new position. For one thing, she’ll have health insurance benefits, which she didn’t have at the Chamber. She also anticipates that she’ll be able to leave work at the office. “There won’t be the pressure of social media and events and meetings, many of which have been in the evening,” she said.
But, despite the stresses, she has loved her work with the Nevada Chamber of Commerce.
“I loved having people stop in the office if they were looking to move to the area and being able to visit with them about all the great things here. I liked delivering welcome baskets,” she said, which has given her a chance to meet many new residents.
One thing she is most proud of during her time at the Chamber is the development of a Community Leadership Committee, which included representatives of many entities in Nevada, like the school, hospital, city government, etc. “We met quarterly and it was an opportunity for everyone to say, ‘This is what we’re doing.’ We talked about housing needs or what each of them had going on. Our goal was to make Nevada a better community by sharing and communicating with each other.”
Scarlett said she leaves the Chamber with no disappointment in how it has functioned in Nevada.
“I think the Chamber has done its job here. We’re reputable and we’ve had a lot of resources we’ve shared with people,” she said.
Having come to the Chamber from a 10-year position with Story County United Way, Scarlett said, “When I came, my hope was to bring my human services knowledge to Nevada in this position.” To that end, she’s answered a lot of calls that have allowed her to point people in the direction of needed services. She’s also answered a lot of calls that have made her laugh. “I wish I had a dollar for all the callers over the last seven years who think they’re calling the State of Nevada. I probably could have retired on that.”
Her departure comes at the peak of the Lincoln Highway Days celebration preparation period — the annual celebration happens the last full weekend of August (this year Aug. 23, 24 and 25). The Chamber is in charge of the celebration.
Because she’s been very involved in this year’s plans, Scarlett has agreed to work part-time — a couple of evenings a week — until the end of August, answering emails and phone messages, handling parade registrations, lining up vendors, barricades, portable restrooms and more. “There’s a lot of last-minute details,” she said, “and we’re still looking for more volunteers.” Not certain of whether there will always be someone at the Chamber during the week after she leaves, Scarlett said she’ll be checking email and phone messages regularly to make sure things are ready.
As she leaves, she wishes to say thanks to a couple of people, Kathy Pettinger, the current president of the Chamber board, and Tom Geist, who holds the current incoming president position on the board. “I want to thank them for having my back and for all the support they’ve given me,” she said. One of her children, son James, has had some very serious health issues over the past year. “They’ve supported me through all that, too, and I thank other board members and Chamber members for their support.”
The Main Street Iowa selection committee heard a presentation by the Nevada group on Tuesday. An announcement on whether Nevada will be accepted by Main Street Iowa into the program should be made within the next few weeks.