The last year has been challenging for many local businesses, but Shakopee Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Angie Whitcomb has been there to ride it out with them, as she has been since April 2010 when she first stepped into the role, and arguably throughout her entire career thus far.
The year 2020 was an economic kick in the gut, said Whitcomb, and while it was a hard year for many, there was so much good in the midst of it all, including downtown restaurants who were raising money for those who had it worse.
“It made me so proud to be part of this community,” she said, adding throughout all the stress and chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, the chamber’s job has been to ensure businesses had everything they needed.
“All businesses are essential,” she said.
Whitcomb’s tenure with the Shakopee Chamber of Commerce has come to an end; she has accepted a position with Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce as executive vice president. Whitcomb said she moved to Minneapolis 34 years ago to start college and that the city has always been her home.
Businesses have flocked to Shakopee in the past decade and developments have grown: from Emerson to Shutterfly to Canterbury Commons to an Amazon fulfillment center.
While the community has evolved since Whitcomb stepped into her role she said it’s important not to lose sight that Shakopee had “great industry” long before that.
Whitcomb, who joined the chamber after spending several years in staffing and recruiting, has — throughout her career — always been an advocate for businesses.
“We all want the same thing,” Whitcomb said. “To create a strong economy where people want to live and work.”
In 2020, Whitcomb was also elected to serve on the board of directors for ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, which represents more than 9,000 professionals.
According to the chamber, since starting out in 2010, Whitcomb has transformed the organization “into a strong advocacy partner representing over 2,000 companies and 25,000 jobs in Shakopee.”
“I’m just really proud of the fact that people look at the chamber as a trusted ally and advocate,” said Whitcomb, who oversaw the addition of the Main Street Program in 2014, which was a nationally-accredited program since its first year.
“It’s been so fun to watch (Shakopee) change and prosper,” Whitcomb said. “Shakopee is not going to slow down.”
When asked what the best part about her job was, Whitcomb said it boils down to the people.
“As you would with any job, you stay for the people you work with,” she said. “I’m very fortunate to have a great team around me. It’s really fun to come to work when it’s so supportive.”
Whitcomb said interacting with an engaged Shakopee business community and its leaders have also been career highlights and throughout the years she’s developed deep friendships.
Jesse Theis, COO emeritus of Rahr Malting Co. in Shakopee, said Whitcomb has been a great advocate for the Shakopee community and helped evolve the chamber from an organization that previously did a good job of promoting retail businesses to one that also serves the interests of large companies like Rahr, which produces and distributes malt and related supplies.
Theis, who once served on the chamber’s board of directors, said throughout 2020, the chamber helped Rahr develop a COVID-19 readiness plan and helped the corporation navigate testing for the virus. Theis said it’s “difficult” to see Whitcomb move on from Shakopee, but while it’s a loss for the local community, it’s a “huge gain” for the region as she steps into a larger role in Minneapolis.
Tim Zunker will step in as the chamber’s interim president beginning Jan. 18. He has been with the Shakopee Chamber and Visitors Bureau since 2014, serving as the vice president of marketing since April 2018. Zunker said Whitcomb took on an “honest and straightforward” approach to her role in Shakopee and throughout the years, she kept the chamber relevant.
“She was a tireless worker and tireless advocate for the community at large,” he said. “She was always doing what was best.”
The Chamber’s Vice President of Marketing Shane Hofmann will assume the role of interim vice president.
“We are going to miss Angie greatly. She was such a vital piece of our community over the last 10+ years and set the groundwork for any success we had as a Chamber,” Hofmann said.
“With that being said, we believe Tim is the perfect fit for the interim president,” Hofmann said. “He’s worked so closely with Angie and has been a huge asset to the Chamber with the Chamber & Visitors Bureau. We look forward to moving forward with the help of Tim’s leadership.”