- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - Scott Meske certainly knows how to hit the ground running.

Less than two days after he arrived in Williston and hours before he officially began his new job as president of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce, Meske stepped up to the microphone and greeted hundreds of the most influential people in town.

At the annual Chamber Banquet, Meske ran the show, acting as if he had been in Williston for years, not hours.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meske told the Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/1nASZ3t ) that he joined the chamber because it was exactly what he needed, and he hopes his skills will be exactly what the chamber needs in a time of change and turmoil in the community.

“To be a leader in the chamber is what I needed next in my career,” Meske said. “This is what I need to be doing at this point. I cannot think of a better place to do it than in this region.”

Meske brings a lifetime of experience to Williston. Before accepting the job as the president of the chamber, Meske served as an executive in a statewide business association in Wisconsin. He has also served in the National Guard and worked for the state of Wisconsin.

“I was interested in leading a nonprofit organization,” Meske said. “This opportunity came, and I did some checking with people I knew. They said it’s the fastest growing part of the country and an unbelievable opportunity.”

After just a few days in the city, Meske is already beginning to understand life in Williston.

“My first impressions are it’s busy,” he said. “It’s 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and the Applebee’s parking lot is still full. It’s also a friendly busy. The words ‘Welcome to Williston’ have been repeated hundreds of times.”

As he begins the job, Meske said he has two priorities - listen to the board of directors and listen to the businesses that make up the chamber.

“I’m going to be visible and available,” he said. “We’re going to take this slowly. We are going to be turning it around and moving it forward. But we are going to be patient. It won’t happen overnight.”

He said making priorities is a must.

“For a city this size, the chamber is fairly modest,” Meske said. “I’d like to see the chamber grow membership wise. You’ve got a lot of diversity. You have retail, you have businesses, you have individuals, you have commercial. That creates one of the biggest challenges. We need to listen to the members, and we need to prioritize.”

Meske said one area he plans to be very active in is advocating for local businesses. Whether that means visiting the city commission or testifying before the state legislature, Meske said he will be there.

“The town has now grown large enough that the chamber needs to step up its game as far as advocacy,” he said. “From what I’ve been told, we need a better return of our tax dollars. I’m excited about that, and I’m excited about the chamber’s strategic plan. I won’t be shy about going to Bismarck.”

Meske said his experience working for the state government in Wisconsin should help him make an impact in Bismarck.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re usually on the menu,” Meske said. “In politics, that has held true for as long as I can remember. We are here to do things the business owner and business managers can’t do.”

As he gets started, Meske said he is confident the chamber can make a difference in the community.

“I like to help other people have a voice in whatever it is they do,” he said. “I understand not everybody has the time or skills to do that. I want all the businesses in tow to feel comfortable that we can help them. From what I see and hear, I think the chamber can be a piece of the puzzle. When the puzzle is complete, we will have a picture of Williston.”

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Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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