By PETER HUSSMANN
Mayor Chaz Allen, the City of Newton's biggest proponent for expanding economic opportunities in the community, will be taking that enthusiasm countywide as the new executive director of the Jasper County Economic Development Corporation (JEDCO).
On Wednesday, the JEDCO board of directors voted unanimously to offer Allen the position. He is replacing Craig Hamilton, who previously announced his intention to leave as JEDCO executive director after nine years due to his pending move to another Iowa community later this month.
JEDCO Board President Doug Bishop said Allen's experience in community development, as mayor of Newton, his current role in community banking and in his past employment in government affairs for Iowa Telecom, will be a benefit to the entire county's economic development activities.
"The JEDCO Board of Directors are pleased to announce that Chaz Allen has accepted the position of exceutive director," Bishop said. "Chaz brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. His connections in state and national economic development circles are unparalleled. We look forward to introducing Chaz to the councils and development groups throughout the county."
Allen said he looks forward to taking on the economic challenges the Jasper County community faces in the wake of Maytag's departure.
"It is a privilege to be asked to serve Jasper County," he said. "I am confident my experience as Mayor of Newton, Iowa Telecom Community Relations Manager and Great Western Bank will serve me well to bring new development and assist in expanding current businesses in our communities throughout Jasper County."
Allen is in his ninth year as Newton mayor, one of the longest tenured mayors in Newton's history. In his new position, however, he will be required to step down from the position but will do so after a transition period.
"Over the next several months, I will work with the JEDCO Board and the City on a transition plan," Allen said. "The position of Mayor has been the hardest, lowest paying and greatest job I have ever held."
Allen said the Jasper County community deserves credit for showing resolve in the face of Maytag's departure and will focus on continuing the momentum already started going forward.
"Everyone in Jasper County deserves a great deal of credit for fighting back after being dealt the blow it did after Maytag's departure," Allen said. "To be recognized nationally about our progress is a feather in the cap of all those who have stayed in Newton and Jasper County to work and live. I am very proud to have served during that time."
Allen said he is excited about the future opportunities for the community.
"I look forward to working with all of the people throughout the county to continue to make Jasper County a great place to live, work and play," he said.
Bishop said Allen will start in his new position on June 20. He will be paid $64,000.
JEDCO is a private, nonprofit development corporation not part of county government but it does receive county funding, as well as per-capita contributions from the communities in Jasper County outside Newton. Its current officers are Bishop, Carol Ann Diekema, vice president; Teryl Ver Ploeg, treasurer; and David Mast, secretary.