ROCK SPRINGS – Chad Banks admits the attention he’s received recently can feel embarrassing, but the Rock Springs Main Street/URA Manager appreciates the spotlight given to work being done downtown.
Banks received the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce’s Rock Star Award last week and was highlighted by the University of Wyoming’s College of Business earlier this year as an alumnus working towards improving Rock Springs. Despite the attention, Banks remains humble and is quick to point out he isn’t alone in creating the success Rock Springs Main Street has enjoyed. Between the main street board of directors, his staff, and the volunteers the organization can count on, Banks wouldn’t be able to accomplish much on his own.
“It’s not just showing up to a meeting every month,” Banks said about the board. “(They) put in 15 to 20 hours of work a month.”
Banks knew about receiving the Rock Star Award since spring, but he wasn’t aware of who the chamber would interview for the video package about the impact he’s had in Rock Springs. The video included statements given by Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism CEO Jenissa Meredith, Maria Mortensen, the chairwoman of the Rock Springs Main Street/URA Board of Directors, and his daughters Hadley and Grace.
“His passion for Sweetwater County is unmatched. There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do to make Rock Springs look as good as it possibly can,” Meredith said.
Banks is a fifth-generation resident with deep roots in Sweetwater County. Like a lot of Rock Springs’ youth, he didn’t see himself staying in his hometown and for a while, he didn’t. Following Banks receiving his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Wyoming in 1991, he worked as the marketing director for the Casper Star-Tribune. In 1999, he returned to Rock Springs and started work as the marketing director for the Sweetwater County Events Complex, a position he would hold until becoming the Rock Springs Main Street Manager in 2013. Nov. 13 marks his 10-year anniversary with the organization.
Banks’s enthusiasm for public service extends beyond his work for the events complex and Rock Springs Main Street. He’s also a former Rock Springs City Council member and was a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives. He has also served on several volunteer boards over the years and currently serves as a board member for the Wyoming Arts Alliance, Wyoming Humanities, Wyoming Equality, and is both a founder and board member of Rock Springs Pride.
For Banks, the source of working hard to promote Rock Springs comes from what he refers to as a combative desire to show how great the community is. Banks said it’s not uncommon for residents to look down upon Rock Springs and shamefully admit they’re from Rock Springs.
“Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy with that,” he said.
He also said older residents still carry the infamous “60 Minutes” coverage Rock Springs received in 1977 in their minds. Though, he notes most of the younger residents of the city don’t have that frame of reference when thinking about Rock Springs.
However, visitors to the area had a much different and positive outlook on the city. Banks said he often hears about how beautiful Downtown Rock Springs is and he receives compliments about the town’s landscaping. He said visitors also notice the natural beauty Sweetwater County offers. The fact that organizations like Rock Springs Main Street can have such a positive impact on the city also goes to showcase the sense of community residents have.
In the coming years, Banks said Rock Springs Main Street will start tackling larger, multi-year projects like the First Security Bank as the organization has accomplished many of the easier, “low-hanging fruit” projects in the downtown area. Banks said the one of the biggest assets Rock Springs Main Street provides the downtown area is functioning as a marketing arm that places a spotlight on events and businesses.
For Banks, he’s now the grandfather to a one-and-a-half-year-old little girl and he wants to continue working to improve Rock Springs so she and others can live in a great community.