BELLE FOURCHE | Mark Rambow is jumping into his new job with both feet.
The newly-hired executive director of the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce started his new post Monday and has been meeting with chamber and community members and business owners around town as he settles in.
Belle Fourche, Rambow said, is “a very welcoming community with lots going on. I’m looking forward to moving the chamber to the next level of community involvement and promotion.”
Rambow, 55, takes over for Gary Wood, who recently retired.
Rambow was born and raised in Sturgis, and attended the University of South Dakota, where he earned a bachelor's degree in history and political science.
He worked in politics before moving into the nonprofit fundraising and management field.
His resume includes work with a number of organizations, including the American Cancer Society
Most recently, he served as development officer for western North and South Dakota with Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons, which governs Scout activities for the Dakotas and the western strip of Minnesota.
Rambow currently lives in Sturgis with his wife, Nancy. Daughter Hannah, 20, attends USD and son, Gabriel, 17, is a senior at Sturgis Brown High School.
He also serves as president of the Sturgis & Meade County Historical Society, and is a board member of the Old Fort Meade Museum.
Rambow’s experience with a variety of organizations set him apart from other candidates, chamber president Kelly Milliken said.
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“We’re really excited to have a director. He’s got some big shoes to fill there. We’re confident that he can do that,” Milliken said.
One of the first challenges faced by the chamber is finding new office space.
The chamber had moved last year to what was the high school office in the Roosevelt Building, 1010 State St.
But that building, originally Belle Fourche High School dating back to 1920, was recently condemned by the city when owners James and Provatia Pietila were financially unable to complete needed building repairs, upgrades and inspections to meet city codes.
The Pietilas have indicated plans to put the three-story, 40,000-square-foot building on the market if a nonprofit or other ownership group can’t be found.
While the chamber secures a new home, officials are allowed by the city to enter the Roosevelt Building to check emails and phone messages.
“We’ve identified a few locations. We’re trying to get that narrowed down to decide which location would be best suited for the chamber,” Milliken said.
Meanwhile, the chamber is focusing on upcoming events, such as a holiday parade of lights and continuing a monthly market, Le Belle Marche, which also has moved from the Roosevelt Building to a new location, Venue 519, at 519 5th Ave.
Rambow plans to stay busy in the next few weeks, getting to know business owners in and around Belle Fourche, which serves a wide retail base in spite of being about 10 miles removed from Interstate 90 and a strong retail hub in Spearfish.
“We want to make sure they continue to get the patrons they need not just to exist, but thrive,” he said of the local business community.