The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce made a key hire in its economic development department.
Vicki Pratt is scheduled to start June 6 as senior vice president of economic development, according to a news release. She succeeds Mary Lilly Smith, the retired city of Springfield planning and development director and economic development director who the chamber appointed on an interim basis after last year’s exit by Ryan Mooney.
“Vicki’s vast experience in economic development work, as well as her enthusiasm for the field, make her an ideal fit for this position on our team,” chamber President Matt Morrow said in the release. “Our economic and workforce development efforts are an incredibly important part of the work the chamber does every day, and we’re confident that Vicki will help us continue that work in a way that benefits the entire region.”
Pratt since 2016 has served as executive director of the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp. and as president of Thrive Economic Development, both in Wisconsin. During her tenure, the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp. has announced 57 project wins and led research projects on topics including wages, brownfields and labor availability.
The Springfield chamber role marks a return to Missouri for Pratt, whose career has also included a stint as head of economic development efforts for the city of Columbia in the central part of the state, according to the release.
As senior vice president of economic development for the Springfield chamber, Pratt will lead economic and workforce development efforts such as working with businesses seeking to relocate or expand in the area. According to the release, she'll be the main liaison between the chamber and its economic development arm, the Springfield Business Development Corp.
Mooney previously led the chamber's economic development efforts in the vice president role for more than 11 out of his 22 years with the organization, according to past reporting. He joined Arvest Bank earlier this year.
After Mooney's exit from the chamber, the organization announced the appointments of Smith and of Jeff Seifried as interim senior project manager.
“Mary’s work for us has been invaluable in ensuring continuity of our economic development work while we conducted a national search for a permanent replacement,” Morrow said in the release. “We can’t thank her enough for her willingness to step in and help.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May the all-items inflation index surged 8.6% over the past year, the highest increase since 1981.