Bret Schanzenbach will be leaving his position as CEO for the Vista Chamber of Commerce in late December and become the new CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce in January 2019. Ted Owen is retiring from his post at the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce after 15 years.
While Schanzenbach is looking forward to his new position, he described leaving Vista as bittersweet.
“I grew up in this community. I graduated high school at Vista High. I live here and love this community,” Schanzenbach said. “Being involved in the chamber has been a wonderful opportunity because there was an opportunity to make an impact on the entire community through my work.”
Schanzenbach said while he has many favorite memories, a standout is a program the chamber created called, “Rising Star of the Month,” where local high seniors are recognized.
“Every month, we get to hear from a new group of seniors that are being honored, and we get to hear stories of overcoming all kinds of different difficulties and challenges,” he said. “I love going to that breakfast each month and hearing the next generation of leaders that are coming, the ‘Rising Stars’ as we call them.”
Another favorite is how the Vista Strawberry Festival has exploded over the years. When it started eight years ago, it had 120 vendors and 20,000 in attendance. In 2018, that number swelled to 450 vendors and nearly 110,000 attendees.
Schanzenbach said the Vista Chamber is still searching for its new CEO.
Schanzenbach said the move to Carlsbad is a great opportunity. Above all, he said he has a passion for the chamber industry.
“I love how much impact the chamber can make in an overall community, and so I’ve never found anything that really could draw me out of this particular industry since I got involved in it,” he said. “This opportunity in Carlsbad is a bigger chamber, and the timing with Ted’s retirement was good timing for me.”
Schanzenbach described Carlsbad as a definite economic catalyst and an economic anchor of the North County 78 corridor with a prosperous industrial park with over 14 million square feet of industrial space and thriving tourism industry as well.
He added that these industries lead to jobs for people in the entire region.
“I’m really excited about being able to be a part of that and continuing the great work that has already taken place,” Schanzenbach said.
As Schanzenbach’s days at the Vista Chamber of Commerce come to an end, he said Vista has been a wonderful community to work with along with community leaders who have been collegial.
“I’ve learned that the many leaders in Vista have done a great job of looking at the big picture of what makes a community thrive and getting out of our individual silos — that’s been so wonderful to work with and now I’m excited to continue that in a neighboring community,” Schanzenbach said.