May 22, 2015

Cody chamber director resigns to take job in Michigan, closer to family

The Cody Country Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new executive director after “regretfully” accepting the resignation of Scott Balyo.

Scott Balyo is leaving the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce. Courtesy photo
Balyo's departure was announced in a news release and the chamber's Friday newsletter. After four years at the helm of the chamber, he's taking a position as editorial director at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. Balyo's last day at the Cody chamber is next Friday, May 29.

“It was just a good decision for him,” said Scott Wagner, the president of the chamber board and owner of the Buffalo Jump Winery in Cody.

He said Balyo’s father died several years ago, and Balyo needed to return to Michigan to help his mother.

“It was a family decision for him to move,” Wagner said in a Friday interview, adding that the opportunity at Michigan Tech “just came to him.”

“It’s going to be some big shoes to fill,” Wagner said.

Balyo was not available for comment beyond a prepared statement included in Thursday's announcement from the chamber.

“While I have a chance to return to my roots both personally and professionally, I will always remember my time in Cody fondly,” he said in the statement.

“He’s done a fantastic job,” Wagner said.

In 2013, when Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said the National Park Service would delay spring snow plowing by two weeks to meet federal budget cuts, Balyo helped raise $50,000 to pay the Wyoming Department of Transportation to plow part of the park, Wagner recalled. That played a role in Balyo being named the state's top chamber director for the year.

When Balyo took the chamber’s helm in 2011, there were no more than 400 chamber members. Now, membership is up to 600, Wagner said.

Balyo was named as Wyoming's Chamber Director of the Year in 2014. Courtesy photo
“It’s going to be some big shoes to fill,” Wagner said. But, he said the staff at the chamber are up for the challenge of a lively summer and, “we have no doubt they’re going to be able to carry the weight.”

“I can’t imagine a better group to work with,” Balyo said in his statement. “We have amazing members, a committed board of directors, and a staff who give their all for this community every day.”

The board plans to meet next Wednesday to decide whether to appoint an interim director. Wagner isn't certain, but he believes the board will do just that, as finding a new director will take time.

“To find the correct person is always kind of a long process,” he said.

“I have had nothing but support from our members and this community since the very first day, and I want to say ‘thank you’ for that,” Balyo said.

At the national level, directors at busy chambers generally last two years before seeking employment elsewhere or being “stolen” by chambers of commerce in other communities, Wagner said. He noted that Balyo was with the Cody chamber nearly four years.

“I like Scott,” Wagner said. “I’m going to miss him; from the work standpoint, we’re going to miss him.”

Despite that, Wagner said he sees finding a replacement as the means to hire a new director with fresh ideas.

“It’s actually really an exciting job with so many things going on,” he said.

In his statement, Balyo noted that when he started the job, he'd never managed a chamber.

“I have had nothing but support from our members and this community since the very first day, and I want to say ‘thank you’ for that,” he said.

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