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Economic Partners

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Rick Hunsaker

Executive Director
Region XII Council of Governments
Rick Hunsaker is a graduate of Drake University, receiving a B.A. in 1988 and a Masters of Public Administration in 1990. He has served since 1995 as Executive Director of Region XII Council of Governments in Carroll, a regional agency serving 6 counties and 59 cities in west central Iowa, as well as its two affiliate non-profit corporations. Hunsaker serves on the Board of Directors for the Iowa Association of Regional Councils (past chair), the Association of Iowa Workforce Partners, Carroll Area Development Cooperation, and Western Iowa Advantage, an eight county cooperative marketing group. He serves on the Alcoholic Beverages Commission for the State of Iowa, having been appointed by Governor Tom Vilsack in 2006. Mr. Hunsaker is a member of several historic preservation advocacy groups.


Additional WIAD Partners

Brandy Ripley

Executive Director
Sac Economic & Tourism Development
Brandy Ripley became Executive Director at Sac Economic and Tourism Development in February of 2016. Brandy is responsible for county-wide business retention and expansion, recruitment, tourism promotion, marketing/public relations, entrepreneurial support and community relations. Born and raised in Sac City, Brandy attended North Iowa Area Community College where she studied business and accounting. Prior to joining SETD, Brandy worked as Economic Development Director for the City of Pocahontas, as Executive Director for Chamber-Main Street in Sac City, as Clerk for Lytton Area Emergency Services Agency, in Human Resources at North Iowa Community Action Organization, and as Administrator for two wind energy companies; Ventus Energy and Clipper Wind.

Shannon Landauer, CEcD

Executive Director
Carroll Area Development Corporation
Shannon Landauer is the Executive Director of Carroll Area Development Corporation and Carroll Chamber of Commerce. She has been active in this positions since January 1, 2014. Her career in economic development began with Boone County Development Agency in Albion, Nebraska in November of 2005 after receiving her degree in Office Technology. She received the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) designation from the International Economic Development Council in January 2017.

Ms. Landauer has been actively involved with business retention, expansion and recruitment projects in sectors that include advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, office, data & IT and many entrepreneurial start-up projects. She maintains active membership with Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI), Mid America Economic Development Council(MAEDC), National Rural Economic Development Association (NREDA) and International Economic Development Council (IEDC). She continues to be active with several boards and committees committed to the education and growth of the economic development profession.

Sarah Gomez

Executive Director
Midwest Partnership Corporation
Sarah Gomez joined Midwest Partnership EDC in September 2009 as the organization's Office Manager, was promoted to Economic Development Coordinator in August 2011, and recently became Executive Director in November 2014. Originally from Rippey, Sarah is a graduate from AIB Institute of Business with Associates and Bachelor's degrees in Accounting. Prior to joining MWP, she held position as city clerk for Rippey. She continues to provide service as an independent consultant for Scentsy and independent contractor for the Family Resource Center. Sarah has also held management and accounting positions in Jefferson and Des Moines, Iowa.

Evan Blakley

Executive Director
Chamber & Development Council of Crawford County
Evan Blakley became Executive Director of the Chamber and Development Council of Crawford County in November 2012. The CDC is an organization of more than 200 investor/member businesses in Denison and Crawford County. Evan is responsible for the industrial, commercial and retail development efforts for the county as well as the public relations, marketing and promotional aspects of the Chamber and Development Council.

Evan formerly worked for bluespace creative, inc., of Denison, providing strategic marketing services to businesses and communities across the globe. He acted as project lead for major initiatives for companies including regional manufacturers and Fortune 500 companies, and shared marketing awards from the National Science Foundation, Logo Lounge and Exhibitor Magazine.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee before moving to Omaha, Evan attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha where his studies included Business, Honors English, Team Communication and Debate. He then graduated among the top five students from the Creative Center in Omaha where he studied Design and Marketing.

As a Denison resident and member of the Denison Planning and Zoning Commission since 2008, Evan is motivated to give back to his community and use his strategic planning and marketing skills to improve economic growth, job opportunities and quality of life in Crawford County.

Ken Paxton

Executive Director
Greene County Chamber of Commerce & Greene County Development Corp.
Moved to Greene County in February 2010 after holding similar positions in Howard County (Northeast Iowa) the previous four years.

Has worked in Economic Development in various capacities the past twelve years.

Graduated from University of Oregon with MBA, did Doctoral work at Florida State and University of Texas.

Has owned five businesses, spent most of his career in marketing for firms like Russell Athletic, Adidas and Hanes.

Married to wife Darla, with two adult children, Kyle and Shannon.

The Greene County community was been extremely welcoming and has done everything possible to support my efforts for economic development and the Chamber.

Rita Frahm

Executive Director
Ida County Economic Development

Rita Frahm helped form Ida County Economic Development in 2006. She is the economic developer for Ida County and also is an ag/commercial loan officer. Rita assists with strategic planning, grant writing, resource development & sustainability, STEM education development, financial assistance, business retention & expansion, site development & location and housing needs within the region. Rita is proud to be working with a stellar team that supports a vision for continued growth for many generations to come, and they strive to open new doors that will make a positive impact within Northwest Iowa.

Chris Whitaker

Local Assistance Director
Region XII Council of Governments

Chris Whitaker is a graduate of Iowa State University, receiving a B.S. Degree in Community and Regional Planning. Chris joined Region XII Council of Governments in 1998 as the COG’s Transportation Planner and was named Local Assistance Director in 2014. His duties at Region XII include management of the Local Assistance Department, offering a variety of services including: economic and community development, regional transportation planning, infrastructure development, grant writing, housing, comprehensive planning, and technical assistance to local governments. Prior to his tenure at the COG, Chris worked for the West Central Nebraska Development District as a Community Development Specialist, focusing on several comprehensive plans, housing studies and economic development plans. Region XII COG serves 6 counties and 56 cities in west central Iowa as well as 6 associate member cities in Dallas and Boone Counties.