Spokane Journal of Business

West Plains Chamber poised for growth

New exec hopes to grow membership, add value

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Newly appointed West Plains Chamber of Commerce executive director Toby Broemmeling says the organization is in a position to expand its scope and membership, and he’s ready to help guide it to the next level. 

“In the last few years, chamber organizations have done a lot of great work, and I think we can do a lot to build on that,” he says. “This is a chance to evaluate what we’re doing now and figure out how we might do it even better.”

Broemmeling says the West Plains is unique in that it covers a big area, which includes several small towns and a variety of businesses both large and small.

“We have the Air Force base, the Spokane International Airport, a prison, a college, and two tribes, all in one area,” he says. “As a chamber, we’re looking at how best to represent and promote each of those entities, which can sometimes be a challenge.”

The West Plains Chamber of Commerce announced it had chosen Broemmeling to serve as executive director late last month, after having earlier moved to larger offices in Airway Heights. He succeeds Joe Jackson, who resigned last July after having served as executive director since April 2015.

West Plains Chamber board chairman Doug Kelley says Broemmeling was chosen as executive director because of his dynamic energy and his experience helping nonprofit organizations to grow.

“Toby has a great passion for service and leadership,” Kelley says. “He also has a demonstrated history of success working with nonprofits, particularly those with limited resources, which is what he’s starting with here.”

Kelley says the chamber is looking to step up the programs and education it’s able to offer its members, and Broemmeling will be a big part of that process.

“We just recently discovered we’re 75 years old, but we have the exuberance and energy of a much younger organization,” he says. “As we go forward, we’ll be looking to harness that and use it to grow our member offerings, as well as overall prosperity on the West Plains.”

Broemmeling describes himself first and foremost as a helper.

“I like to employ what they call the servant leadership style,” he says. “I hold myself to a pretty high standard, and I value organizations that make that same level of commitment in our communities.” 

Broemmeling previously served six years as the community director for Young Life, a national nonprofit youth ministry which began a regional branch at Fairchild Air Force Base before expanding service to the greater West Plains area.

Prior to his work with Young Life, Broemmeling was special projects coordinator with the Spokane Home Builders Association.

He says both of those previous experiences have proved useful in preparing him for his new position as executive director.

“My background with the Home Builders Association gave me experience in working with and advocating for member companies,” he says. “And my time with Young Life has allowed me to connect more with the West Plains area, learning about its needs from people who actively live and work here.”

The 35-year-old Broemmeling lives in Cheney. He also serves on the West Plains Truancy Board and as a volunteer pastor at the Heights Church in Airway Heights. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management, economics, and international business from Whitworth University.

“I really care about this community and believe in its potential,” he says. “I feel like this is exactly where I was meant to be.”

The West Plains Chamber moved its offices in November to a 2,800-square-foot leased space at 13514 W. Sunset Highway, in Airway Heights, from a 400-square-foot leased space at 510 First, in Cheney.

“We felt an office in Airway Heights might serve as a more central location,” Brommeling says. “This office is also more than double our old space, with room for board meetings, as well as networking and member events.”

Broemmeling is currently the chamber’s only full time employee, although it does also employ two administrative office staff on a contracted basis.

He says recently there’s a sense of hopefulness about the economic development taking place in the West Plains area.

“It’s really uplifting and fun to be a part of that,” he says.

Broemmeling adds, “I think that going forward, what we want to do is continue to promote infrastructure that supports that growth, while also respecting the needs of local businesses and the community as a whole.”

For now, Broemmeling says he’s excited to begin connecting with and serving the chamber’s 208 current members.

“The chamber’s three goals are always advocacy, networking, and education,” he says. “We do want to grow membership, but we’re also focused on adding value for our current members.”

The chamber’s membership has grown in the past five years, as has its relevance within the greater Spokane area, Broemmeling asserts.

“We’ve been developing a united voice,” he says. “Now, we have to determine how best to use our voice to speak for the West Plains.”

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken covers health care at the Journal of Business. A Minnesota native and cat lover, she enjoys beachside vacations and writing poetry. LeAnn has worked for the Journal since 2015.

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