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Vicki Pratt served as the chamber's senior vice president of economic development since June 2022.
SBJ file
Vicki Pratt served as the chamber's senior vice president of economic development since June 2022.

Chamber eco devo exec departs after a year

Posted online

The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce's economic development department head has abruptly exited after less than a year on the job, and the organization is working with City Utilities of Springfield to fill the vacancy.

Chamber President Matt Morrow said Vicki Pratt is no longer an employee of the organization as of this week. She started last summer as senior vice president of economic development.

Morrow declined to disclose why Pratt left the post and whether her exit was a resignation.

"Employee departures are personnel matters, and as a matter of policy we do not offer public comment on the particulars," he said via email.

Pratt could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Dean Thompson, CU vice president and chief economic development officer, is scheduled to start June 19 as the chamber's executive director of regionalism and economic development, Morrow said.

"Dean’s service to the chamber will update an existing contract for services between City Utilities and the chamber, allowing him to serve as an executive in residence with the chamber, while still remaining an employee of City Utilities," Morrow said. "In this capacity, Thompson will lead the chamber’s economic development team, focused on strengthening our organizational model for regionalism as well as the chamber’s core economic development program via leadership over the team's project management, lead development, business retention/expansion efforts, site development and economic development research efforts."

Morrow said that through the contract, CU pays the chamber's economic development arm, the Springfield Business Development Corp., for economic development services.

"That value now will be provided as in-kind services courtesy of Dean, in his new role as executive in residence with the chamber," Morrow said.

Gary Gibson, CU general manager and CEO, was unavailable for comment by deadline.

Pratt is the latest in a series of employees to leave the chamber in recent months.

Currently leaving by way of retirement are Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Sandy Howard and Vice President of Strategic Communications Jennifer McClure, who announced their plans earlier this year.

Additionally, Rachael (Mhire) Palmer, marketing and events manager, took a job at Central Bank in Springfield, and Emily Denniston, vice president of public affairs, headed to the Efactory, according to past reporting.

The role held by Pratt became open after the exit in 2021 by longtime chamber executive Ryan Mooney. In the interim between Mooney's departure and Pratt's hiring, the chamber brought on Mary Lilly Smith, the retired city of Springfield planning and development director and economic development director. After Mooney's exit, the chamber also announced the appointment of Jeff Seifried as interim senior project manager, according to past reporting.

The chamber's website lists 22 employees, including Howard, McClure and Seifried.

The Springfield Daily Citizen was first to report on Pratt's exit and Thompson's role with the chamber.

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