The Abilene Industrial Foundation (AIF), the longstanding economic development arm of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members to the Develop Abilene team.
Helen Usera, Ed.D, will serve as Director, Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) for the AIF, while Brent Schroeder will serve as Director, Emerging Business.
The product of the recent realignment between the AIF and the Development Corporation of Abilene, these two key roles will assist in bringing focus to the AIF’s responsibilities of existing business retention and expansion, workforce and talent development and retention, downtown revitalization, entrepreneurship and retail recruitment.
“I want to think those leaders within the Chamber and AIF for participating in the selection process. It is because of their hard work we are able to add the caliber of talent that both Helen and Brent bring to the organization,” said Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. Peters also serves as president of the AIF.
Dr. Usera is known to many Abilenians through her work as a Civic Leader with Global Strike Command at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota. In addition to her work with the Air Force, Helen has been actively involved in community and economic development through Elevate Rapid City, a public/private partnership organization leading development and small business efforts in the Black Hills region. Helen will officially begin her new role on November 20, 2020.
“AIF has engaged business leaders ready and able to move Abilene forward. I am excited to be part of a team that is helping the community of Abilene be strong and vibrant,” Usera said.
Schroeder comes to the AIF by way of a successful background in sports marketing and business partnerships and is a graduate of Abilene Christian University. A proven performer, Schroeder will lead the AIF’s efforts in building the innovation framework called for in the community’s economic development plan, and will serve as a partner to area providers of service to small businesses. In addition, Brent will have responsibility for assisting in positioning Downtown Abilene as a center for employment and will serve as the primary point of contact in the area of retail and commercial recruitment.
Schroeder began in his new role on November 2, 2020.
“I am extremely excited to be joining the Abilene Industrial Foundation team and work alongside the Chamber, their affiliates, local businesses, entrepreneurs, and everybody in between. Abilene is my hometown that has given me so much, and I look forward to pouring that back into the community,” said Schroeder.
Marshall Morris of First Financial Bank, the Chamber’s 2020 Chairman of the Board, praised both new staff members as having the vision and the tenacity to help advance the economic interests of our city.
“I’m thrilled to be among the first to welcome the two newest members to the Chamber team, and to have had an opportunity to be a part of their selection. I’m encouraged that they have the right stuff to make lasting impressions on our community through their individual and combined roles in the Industrial Foundation,” Morris said.
Gary Grubbs, Lawrence Hall Abilene and 2019-2021 Chairman of the Abilene Industrial Foundation, echoed Morris’s comments and added, “the AIF is now poised to ensure our community’s economic development engine is firing on all cylinders and that the talent is in place to advance economic opportunity for Abilene and our surrounding area.”
The AIF, a member-based organization of more than 50 local business leaders, serves as a contractual organization to the Development Corporation of Abilene and together, the two organizations have worked for more than a year to define roles and responsibilities to ensure Abilene’s world-class competitiveness in the areas of economic and community development.
“We look forward to the contributions these two professionals will make in the community and to watching the public/private partnership that defines Abilene to continue to shine on for years to come,” added Morris.
About the Chamber: Since 1908, the Abilene Chamber has served as a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for developing and promoting the economy and quality of life. For more information on the Chamber, its affiliates, and the 1,200 businesses it represents, visit www.abilenechamber.com.
About the AIF: An affiliate of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, the AIF is a public private partnership between the Development Corporation of Abilene and the Abilene business community. The AIF works to cultivate Abilene’s economic ecosystem through entrepreneurial services, business retention and expansion and downtown development. The AIF also serves as a liaison between education and business to help shape the future of our Abilene workforce.