Brian Rice, Chamber PresidentI’m Brian Rice and I’m so excited at the opportunity to represent Excelsior Springs, you and your business as your new Chamber President.

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, 20 of those as publisher, I know this is the perfect transition as I considered a professional change.

I’ve learned through my career that local newspapers and the Chamber have very similar missions: we inform the community, we promote the community, we support the community, we participate in the community’s growth.

As publisher, I spent almost all of my 20 years on a Chamber board or committee – serving as of the board, chairman of the Waterfest Committee, and member of the finance committee. I was a participating member in acquiring the License Bureau contract for the Chamber which in turn allowed us to begin our popular Trolley business.

I’m currently working with the Westside Committee in securing a Community Improvement District that will aid Excelsior Springs in receiving a $21.5 million federal grant to radically improve its infrastructure and streets, providing a beautification makeover on the west side like never seen before and adding sidewalks in important areas of our community.

In the mid-70s, my family moved to the downtown area of Excelsior Springs where I grew up and began my career as a newspaper carrier at 13 years old. At that young age, I was already learning about community service and hard work from business owners like Wendell Clark, H.A. Dickey, Bob Nance, Larry and Shirley Radley, Bill Griffey II, and so many others.

When I was 20 years old, Commerce Bank President Leon Neal shook my hand and handed me $2,000 to print and start my own comic book business. Many of you may remember Captain Crafty. He’s still in the back of my mind, waiting patiently for a heroic comeback one day. Leon Neal had faith in me and in my business plan, giving me the opportunity to begin my own entrepreneurial career. Role models like these inspired my love for Excelsior Springs and my desire to give back to a hometown that has given me so much.

I don’t remember the politics of the 70s and 80s, I just remember that in Excelsior Springs I had fun and I felt safe. Everyone could be your friend, and neighbors weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and help when you needed it.

Though Excelsior has seen its ups and downs over the past 40 years, I believe we are again on the cusp of a new golden age. New schools are being built; roads and infrastructure are receiving federal funding for major improvements; our historic Hall of Waters is seeing some much-needed love and attention thanks to the creative and hard work of city management. Visitors from all over the country are visiting our small town and catching just a glimpse of the hope and hospitality we experience every day.

And our business community has never been more vibrant than it is today. While I know so many of you from years past and look forward to working with you, I’m just as excited at the new faces joining our Excelsior Springs family. So many new businesses have opened over the past few years, I look forward to meeting you as well, becoming acquainted with you, and becoming one of your largest advocates.

We have so many great people and organizations today, all working toward a common goal. I have always believed the Chamber of Commerce is that glue that holds everyone together, that crosses the boundaries to inform you on community development, promote your business, support your business and participate in your business’s success. I look forward to representing you all as your Chamber President and want to thank the board of directors for giving me this great opportunity. I can’t promise you another 32 years, but I promise you all that I have.

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