Dirk Draper, Chamber & EDC president and CEO, to retire at end of 2021
Draper’s long and successful tenure has cleared the way for the next phase of Colorado Springs growth
Colorado Springs, Colo. – Dirk Draper, president & CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation, announced that he will retire at the end of this year. Draper, 61, has led the organization for nearly seven years.
Draper has served as president & CEO of the Chamber & EDC, then known as the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, since early 2015. Draper previously served as a board member of both the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, including serving as board chair in 2010, and the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation prior to their merger in 2013.
“It’s been a singular honor to lead the Chamber & EDC,” said Draper. “The staff and board have kept a keen focus on accomplishing our mission of growing prosperity through a strong business climate. We have worked closely with many community partners to promote and advance the region’s business community.”
Mike Juran, chair of the board of directors of the Chamber & EDC, commented, “Dirk has been a strong, effective leader for the Chamber & EDC. The board appreciates his leadership and is committed to building on the solid foundation he created with his team. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Dirk. While I am sad to see him go, I’m thrilled for Dirk and his family to reach this important milestone in life. I’m also grateful that he is committed to remain through the end of the year to ensure a seamless transition and the continued momentum of our business community.”
Draper’s successor will be identified by a search committee who will consider local, regional, and national candidates, according to Juran. The effort will be supported by a recruiter who specializes in the chamber and economic development industries.
The Chamber & EDC’s accomplishments, financial strength, and reputation grew significantly under Draper’s leadership. The Chamber & EDC:
- Formed the Regional Recovery Council with El Paso County Public Health to ensure balanced consideration of economic health and public health during the COVID pandemic. That effort recently received a national award for innovation from the National Association of City and County Health Officials.
- Assisted local businesses with expansions, including Ent Credit Union, Jaxon Engineering, Swire Coca-Cola, and Titan Robotics, among others.
- Led or assisted with the attraction of new employers, including Amazon, Formstack, InvestorTools, and Trisco Foods, among others
- Attracted Southwest Airlines to serve Colorado Springs with 13 flights daily to five cities. Southwest Airlines’ presence also includes employing more than 60 employees.
- Led the region’s campaign to be the permanent headquarters of US Space Command.
- Implemented a national public relations strategy to tell the story of the region’s business community. This has resulted in more than 70 stories placed since 2018 in regional and national media.
- Led multiple successful local ballot campaigns to improve business climate, including policy wins eliminating the 30-word limit on ballot language for local measures; establishing dedicated funding for stormwater infrastructure; and a defeat of proposed collective bargaining by city firefighters.
- Increased diversity of its board – 38.1% are women and 23.8% are people of color – and launched a Diversity in the Workplace Committee to provide an opportunity for business leaders to learn and discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Membership grew from 950 in 2015 to more than 1,400 in 2020.
Prior to joining the Chamber & EDC in 2015, Draper was Area Manager for the Colorado Springs office of CH2M HILL (now Jacobs Engineering). His professional practice included conducting community and environmental impact assessments for public infrastructure projects. He has been active in many community organizations and initiatives, including serving as co-chair of the 2014 campaign to renew the Rural Transportation Authority program. He has served on boards of Memorial Hospital, Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, and the city’s Trails and Open Space Working Committee, among others.
Draper earned an MS in Natural Resource Economics from Colorado State University and a BS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri. Draper and his wife Jeanie have three adult children and one daughter-in-law. Together they enjoy camping, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and birding.
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