Bob Wilson has announced his resignation as Perry’s Director of the Chamber of Commerce. Wilson took over as Chamber Director in 2011, marking a 6-year run with the Chamber.
Following his departure, Wilson will stay in the community and move into a Business Development role at the local AccuJet.
“Bob has what we strive for in every community member: a passion for the community,” said Misty Von Behren, Chamber of Commerce member. “His presence will be missed in the chamber organization and I’m very happy for him.”
Originally from the Perry area, Wilson says the position taught him about the power of the community rallying together for a variety of events.
“I found pride in it and I made it to my passion to make sure other people were aware or as excited,” Wilson said. “I had a great time and I also learned how to deal with all kinds of personalities and situations.”
Wilson temporarily moved out to California after high school and became involved in the arts: photography and later the wine industry.
The position in Perry was not one he imagined himself being part of, but found the job interesting after moving back home.
“This position came open and I was looking for a way to get involved; I had this new found love for the community, something that takes you a little bit of time to realize what you had until you go away,” Wilson said.
With a family history background in volunteering for the community, Wilson became a recognizable face around Perry.
“Having that [volunteering] background was awesome, leaving was a really good thing and opened my eyes to a whole new world,” Wilson said. “I learned a lot about myself, but coming back and having that history - everyone calls me ‘Little Bobby.”
“That was a challenge and a blessing, too. I had to introduce myself now as an adult and a professional and I was very welcomed.”
During Wilson’s time as Director, he oversaw continuous events in Perry, and frequently went from one event to the next. His favorite, however, was the Overnight RAGBRAI in Perry in 2013.
“That was the one event that really had the entire community involved,” Wilson described. “There was hundreds of volunteers and we were meeting with a committee of 40 people, and we did it; we executed it out to the best of our ability.”
“To see the whole community rally behind something, that really made me feel good.
Taking pride in his hometown, Wilson believes it’s harder to convince those who grew up in the community to stay put.
“Our generations are getting less and less involved in some degree and we have to find a way to give back to the community.”
Wilson referenced the ability to pull former Perry High students into the community for career opportunities, listing Sven Peterson as an example for his role as the City Administrator.
“It’s something we’ve tried to do as a Chamber Board is find ways to get those graduates to come back to Perry,” Wilson said. “Our City Administrator is very young and he graduated from Perry High School and has contributed to tons of those examples. I think that’s something the Chamber is continuing to do.”
Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Emily Leslie, enjoyed her time working alongside Wilson. She believes different opinions within the board allowed for discussion, later opening doors for new ideas for Perry.
“I really enjoy working with the chamber and I really love the people on the board because everyone has their own ideas,” Leslie said. “Bob brings that full circle and rallies the troops together to get those ideas flowing.”
Organizational and communicative skills paired with a passion for the community are traits Wilson hopes the next Director will have.
“Keep promoting Perry, we have to stay on the map, whether that’s externally or internally,” Wilson said. “I never planned to be a Chamber Director, but I would advocate for it,”
Wilson is set to be in the office for the next two weeks and says will help assist in the transition process of the next Director.
“We just want to make sure that everything continues as normal, we want the community to still know that all of the chamber board members are fighting for them every single day,” Leslie said.