Newly renovated Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau
What’s new about the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce? Just about everything – fitting for an organization that serves an area exploding with growth and change. The number of new visitors, residents, and businesses to Dripping Springs seems to increase daily.
Local civic leaders and organizations like the Chamber are also changing to keep pace with the many challenges of growth. One of those recent changes was the appointment of a new Executive Director for the Chamber, along with a new address, and a new Visitor’s Bureau with its own director.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sherrie Parks stands next to design plans for the new Chamber offices next to City Hall, while still at the old location next to the HEB on Hwy 290 East
Meet Sherrie Parks, who shares her professional background, and her perspective from the Executive Director’s chair on the future for the DS Chamber, in her own words:
CONGRATS ON BEING NAMED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR! TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHERE ARE YOU FROM, HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN DRIPPING, WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL, ARE YOU MARRIED? ANY KIDS? WHATEVER YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE…
Paul and I have been married almost 28 years. We have four children: Shelby 15, Anthony 14, Travis 7 and Danielle 7. Our family is specially made. We adopted our girls (at separate times) from the state and they are birth sisters. I gave birth to our boys in between the adoption of the girls. We have lived in Dripping close to 16 years. We attend church and our older kids are very active in the youth group at Gateway Hill Country Church. I grew up in Southeast Texas near the Gulf Coast, and went to school at the University of Houston.
One of Parks’ first tasks as Exec Dir was to preside over the annual Chamber of Commerce Suits & Boots awards event at the Salt Lick in February
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE COMING TO THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE?
My degree is in Political Science. I began my career with U.S. Senator Phil Gramm in his Houston office. After working on Jerry Patterson’s successful campaign for Texas Senate, I went to work for him in Austin. I have worked for two Texas Senators and two State Representatives. I left the Capitol to stay home with my kids. My favorite job came in 2000, when the economy was slow and we were thinking we would need to move back to Houston. The Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce was looking for a part-time President (now called Executive Director). We decided that if I were chosen for the job, we would stay in Dripping Springs. I was and we did. I held the job for two years until we were surprisingly blessed with the birth of Travis, and the adoption of Danielle, and I chose once again, to stay home with our babies. It was a privilege then and now to have been chosen to serve the businesses and community of Dripping Springs through the Chamber.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS ASPIRED TO A CIVIC LEADERSHIP ROLE?
I can’t say that I have purposely aspired to any particular role in the community. Paul and I both place a high importance on serving God and, through that, our community. We spent several years as members of the Austin Jaycees running projects such as Christmas Care Packages (delivering food & gifts to those in need) and Legislative Seminar (a mock Legislative session that taught the fundamentals of passing new laws). We have also done quite a bit of volunteering for our church and at our kids’ schools.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT MISSION FOR THE DS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE?
I see my position at the Chamber as one of a facilitator and collaborator. I will facilitate bringing the members of the Chamber more business by re-energizing the Buy Local, Buy Dripping Springs program, bringing education to the businesses on topics such as Social Media and Organization that will help them run their businesses more efficiently, and helping the owners/managers network with each other. The more each business owner knows about their fellow chamber members, the more referrals can be gained by all. In addition, I will be helping our Economic Development Committee to establish strong, readily available data that can be accessed by businesses that may be looking at Dripping Springs as a new location.
Part of this mission will also be launching a new website for the Dripping Springs Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau. The new website will have current information for everyone – those living, visiting or doing business in our area.
As collaborator, I will work with the City, County, and businesses such as “Around Dripping Springs” to bring positive developments to our city.
The modular building next to City Hall that previously housed a food pantry on Mercer Street was recently renovated to house the new Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau offices.
ABOUT THE NEW VISITOR’S CENTER – WHY THE MOVE TO A NEW LOCATION?
Before I came on as Executive Director, Bonnie Humphrey, the Chair of the Chamber Board, and our current Board members had made significant strides in establishing a positive working relationship with the City of Dripping Springs. Through those efforts, we learned of this opportunity to move the Chamber to a better, more recognizable location (next to City Hall). Many times previously, visitors had come to the Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau looking for City Hall, or they went to City Hall looking for the Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau. We are now situated next to each other and the new Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau is a warm, welcoming place for all.
The former DS Area Visitors Center was located on property next to the HEB shopping center. Parks says the Center simply provided passers through with brochures and information about the area at the old location. The new location will house an expanded Visitors Bureau that will serve as a starting point for local tourism.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE CHAMBER AND FOR THE NEW VISITOR’S BUREAU?
Until recently, being the Executive Director of the Chamber meant wearing two hats – one as Chamber director and one as Visitor’s Bureau director. They are both jobs that need full time attention. The new Visitor’s Bureau now has its own Director, Shannon Moler, who was just named to the position in March. Shannon’s job will be to market Dripping Springs as a tourist destination. Shannon and I will work together, with her promoting the tourism side of Dripping Springs, and me promoting the business side.
I now look forward to being able to specifically focus on what the businesses of Dripping Springs need to make them successful.
DS Chamber leaders preside over the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Grand Opening of Dudley’s Wine Bar & Tap Room on Mercer Street in February. From L-F: Chamber Exec Dir Sherrie Parks, Wine Bar owners Stacey & Adam Dudley, Chamber Board Chair Bonnie Humphrey
Visit the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce online: www.drippingspringstx.org
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