Mitchell chamber selects Vaux as new leader

The Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce announced its new executive director Friday, tapping a longtime South Dakota resident for the job.

Mark Vaux, an Aberdeen native who most recently spent about five years as the executive vice president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, will take over the position when current Executive Director Bryan Hisel retires in September.

“The chance to come home to South Dakota was a huge part of it,” Vaux said. “The leadership and the work that Bryan has done, it’s been amazing, and I look forward to continuing the great work that has been in place for a long time.”

Vaux, a Northern State University graduate, was a senior business development representative for the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development from 2004 to 2012 and was the economic development and community services director for West Fargo, North Dakota, until 2013.

Additionally, he has certifications from both the National and International Economic Development Councils and attended the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.

Vaux also worked on development projects with the Northern State University Foundation and has worked with then-Congressman John Thune.

The executive director job opening was advertised in April, and candidates had until the end of that month to apply. Of the more than 35 people who applied in total, a search committee interviewed five, then re-interviewed candidates as needed.

Search committee co-chairman and Mitchell Area Development Corporation President Terry Torgerson said that Vaux’s experience led him to stand out from other candidates for the position, and that his South Dakota roots were a plus, as well.

“Mark has an extensive knowledge of economic development,” Torgerson said. “When we got all said and done with everybody, he was the one that we felt was the best fit for Mitchell.”

Vaux said that when he first gets to Mitchell and starts his new role, he wants to spend time getting to know the community as much as possible.

“Great community, great leadership, great vision. I really look forward to coming down and working with everybody,” Vaux said of Mitchell. “I’m hoping to learn who’s doing what and just learn as quickly as I can in as much detail as I can.”

One of his top priorities as executive director will be strengthening Mitchell’s workforce.

“Workforce is a big challenge and a big opportunity for the (Mitchell) community,” Vaux said.

That combination of challenge and opportunity isn’t an unfamiliar concept for Vaux. In his most recent job in Fargo, he recruited multiple businesses to the Fargo-Moorhead area, and he assisted in creating the Workforce Development Council, which works to implement workforce training programs across South Dakota.

In Fargo, he also led business expansion projects, put a business retention and expansion campaign into action and raised funding for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation.

While he’s ready to bring his own expertise to Mitchell, Vaux said he wants to honor what Hisel has already put in place in the area.

“It’s important to celebrate the 33 years that he’s been there,” Vaux said. “You just don’t see a long, tenured career like that in economic development anymore.”

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