Glendale Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Robert Heidt

Glendale Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Robert Heidt.

Just two years after hiring a downtown development director, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce has begun making changes to its staff in an effort to improve operations.

Katy Engels had been the chamber’s downtown development director since the position’s creation.

“The position was eliminated as part of the reorganization and, like all good organizations, there are times we must realign the operations to achieve the goals,” Chamber President and CEO Robert Heidt explained.

Glendale City Council voted unanimously in 2017 to approve a five-year contract for $610,510 to create a new downtown manager position that would fall under the supervision of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce in a public-private partnership.

Prior to Engels joining the Glendale Chamber of Commerce in August 2017, she had been executive director of the Waterford, Wisconsin, Chamber of Commerce. During her time with Glendale, Engels set up meetings with downtown merchants who expressed their concerns and hopes for the city to improve downtown Glendale.

Despite having been focused on improving the downtown area, Engels was never able to get merchants on the same page when it came to possible improvements, an example being changing special events.

When city officials removed three weekends from Glendale Glitters last year, merchants complained. And some credit Engels with getting one of those weekends reinstated.

Although Heidt said the city and chamber are still focused on improving the downtown area, reorganization was deemed necessary to improving relations.

“(Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps) has not wavered from his continued commitment to downtown,” Heidt said. “In fact, he is working with our Strategic Leadership Advisory Group on what the future holds. And, we have recently secured a professional services agreement to provide support for downtown. Nothing changes. Our commitment to downtown remains intact and stronger than ever.”

Downtown aside, Heidt added that the city and chamber are focused on the entire city when it comes to improving businesses.

“We have great concern for the entire city and its success and work on business endeavors throughout,” Heidt said. “However, given our contract for services with the city of Glendale, we will continue to provide services to the downtown business community as we have done since the inception of the agreement.”

He added that the chamber is focused on the reorganization to provide great service and ensure improved chamber services are provided.

While concern has been expressed by many to the change, Heidt ensures the organization will continue to improve.

“For anyone who views this as a negative or the latest water cooler gossip, it’s unfortunate … If you have an interest in a business endeavor, an issue we can collaborate on to improve Glendale, I’m all ears. But if someone is looking to ‘gossip,’ we have much more important work to do, which is evident by our past five-plus years of solid performance,” Heidt said.

“We are a ‘get-it-done’ chamber, and that is what we will continue to focus on for the community.”