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Longtime Carlsbad Chamber CEO Ted Owen retires

CARLSBAD — A dedicated and decorated career came to a ceremonious close on Jan. 9.

Ted Owen, former President and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, was honored and celebrated by nearly 150 of the city’s leaders, residents, friends, family and business community members during a luncheon at The Westin Carlsbad.

Owen, 77, came to the chamber 15 years ago from the San Diego Business Journal and built the chamber into one of the biggest and most successful in San Diego County and the state.

Growth and membership exploded over the course of his tenure, as it has become the second largest in the county and 10th biggest in the state with about 1,300 members.

Bret Schanzenbach was named the new CEO after holding the same position in the Vista Chamber of Commerce since 2009.

Owen spun yarns about his career and life in the military, where he served in Vietnam. He told several jokes, inducing big laughs, and broke down thanking his wife of 53 years, Kathy, of whom he said none of his accomplishments could have been possible without.

“Without her, it would have ben a pretty tough 53 years,” Owen said, choking up. “After 62 years, I’m saying goodbye.”

Former board of directors Chairman Carlton Lund recruited Owen to Carlsbad while Owen was president and publisher of the San Diego Business Journal.

Lund said once the chamber board, president and hiring team met with Owen, they offered him the position within 72 hours. Lund said Owen’s skillset translated perfectly to the position and the chamber has grown dramatically over the past 15 years.

“The Carlsbad chamber has prospered with his leadership and talents,” Lund said during his speech.

Mayor Matt Hall also spoke, telling the audience of Owen’s leadership and ability to collaborate and build teams. Hall recalled of one notable challenge years ago when Viasat, the internet service provider and largest employer in the city, was threatening to move out of town to either Denver, Atlanta or Texas.

Viasat wanted to build another new facility to accommodate its growth and did not want to invest in the city, one reason being the time it took to approve permits and plans before breaking ground.

So, Hall and Owen devised a plan to keep the company in Carlsbad, which resulted in streamlining the process and cutting red tape.

Viasat broke ground in 2016 on about 480,000 square feet of office space on El Camino Real across from its current campus.

“This is a great day and a sad day,” Hall said. “We owe Ted a great debt of gratitude.”

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