The Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GMCCI) did not have to look too far to find its new leader – he sits at the mayor’s desk at Muscatine City Hall.
Mayor Brad Bark, who was elected last fall, now also will serve as the GMCCI’s president and CEO, the chamber board announced Thursday, June 23. He will assume his new duties with GMCCI effective July 6 and intends to remain mayor.
“I recognize that serving in both these roles provides some unique opportunities and some unique challenges,” Dr. Bark said in a news release. “I plan to work through any challenges by remaining committed to my approach of always listening to what people have to say and working to find common ground.”
Dr. Bark, a former chiropractor, replaces Erik Reader, who stepped down at the end of February to take another job opportunity. He had led the chamber for two years including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the city’s mayor, Dr. Bark is a nonvoting member of the Muscatine City Council. However, should any conflict of interest arise between the city and GMCCI business, he will exercise the ability to recuse himself, the chamber said in the release announcing his new post.
He was selected after the chamber conducted a nationwide search with the assistance of two recruitment firms. Several candidates with a wide array of backgrounds in chamber of commerce and economic development were screened or interviewed throughout the three-month search process.
But ultimately, the board said the ideal candidate was in Muscatine. Dr. Bark has been dedicated to Muscatine since 2007 when he moved to the city, where he ran a successful chiropractic clinic and also worked to renovate additional buildings downtown.
The board applauded his ability to see the potential in the people and other assets in Muscatine and his passion for working with others to bring Muscatine to its full potential.
“Brad has demonstrated a strong commitment to making Muscatine great,” Gage Huston, Board Chair of GMCCI, said in the release. “He is somebody with good vision and excellent relationship building skills and those talents will serve GMCCI and our members well in the coming years.”
In an earlier interview with the QCBJ, Dr. Bark said the city’s strengths and its challenges prompted him to run for mayor. “We’d like more people to put down roots here,” he said, adding that affordable, quality housing is at the top of the list of challenges. “When people come here, they like it. We have to promote what Muscatine has to offer.”
As GMCCI’s president and CEO, Dr. Bark will be responsible for executing a plan to meet the following strategic directions: business services and advocacy, talent cultivation and workforce development, business expansion and recruitment, commercial corridor revitalization, entrepreneurship and innovation, and tourism and marketing.
“The current GMCCI staff are doing so many great things and I look forward to working with Brad to continue building on that past success,” Mr. Huston added. “Many people in Muscatine, including business owners, reached out to the board to express support for Bark’s candidacy. His cooperation and great people-skills and passion for his hometown were highlighted many times.”
Dr. Bark joins a talented GMCCI team, including Rebecca Paulsen, Hannah Howard and Dena Ferreira.
“I’ve been so impressed with the work that the current staff have been doing over the past couple of years and I’m anxious to get to work with them more closely to serve Muscatine and our members,” Dr. Bark said.