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A variety of new faces will assist in building the business development in southwest Johnson County. Both the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce and the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation boast new leadership. The city of Gardner also recently hired a public information officer and a new police chief.
Edgerton’s new community development director Kenneth Cook stepped into the role on Nov. 12.
Cook’s job entails managing all aspects of community development and planning for the city, including planning at the Logistics Park-Kansas City. As community development director, Cook will oversee Edgerton’s Community Development Department, including planning and zoning, code enforcement, animal control, and building inspection. Cook also acts as city administrator in the administrator’s absence.
“With the tremendous growth our community is experiencing, adding a community development director is the critical next step,” Beth Linn, Edgerton city administrator, said. “We believe Kenny’s past experience in planning and development will be a valuable asset to our community.”
Cook most recently served as the planning and zoning administrator for McPherson (Kan.) County. He has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering technology from Pittsburg State University, and a master’s degree in regional and community planning from Kansas State University. He also holds American Institute of Certified Planners certification and Certified Floodplain Manager credentials.
Jason Camis became the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director after serving in a similar role at the Paola Chamber of Commerce for more than three years. He started in Gardner last December.
During his time in Paola, the chamber’s membership increased by 20 percent. He also led the implementation of numerous new programs. He also serves on the board of the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Kansas.
In addition to his experience in the chamber industry, Camis has several years of experience leading nonprofit organizations and has been both a small-business owner and co-founder of a technology company. Originally from Detroit, he has a master’s degree in tourism and urban studies from Michigan State University and currently lives with his wife and two young daughters on a small farm in Ottawa.
Greg Martinette took the top role at the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation in January. He succeeds Tom Reiderer as the SWJCEDC president. Reiderer, who is assisting in the leadership transition, will stay on with the organization through the end of this month.
The EDC’s board in May 2014 formed a selection committee to find Reiderer’s replacement.
“After an exhaustive search, we found the most qualified candidate to lead the organization, Greg Martinette,” Chip Corcoran, board chairman, said. “Greg brings with him a wealth of knowledge, contacts and experience in economic development, and we are excited about his vision for the future of the EDC and the region.”
With more than 20 years of experience leading successful EDC entities, Martinette is skilled in managing high-profile projects with exceptional detail and professionalism.
Most recently, Martinette served a key economic development role for the city of Grain Valley, Mo.
In a press release, Martinette said he is excited about the possibilities in southwest Johnson County.
“I look forward to the opportunities to grow with the organization, the communities it serves and all of the regional stakeholders,” he said.
The primary mission of the SWJCEDC is to stimulate economic growth by demonstrating to new and existing companies the unique business advantage of a southwest Johnson County location.
Daneeka Marshall-Oquendo recently joined the city of Gardner as its new communication manager/public information officer last week.
As the first to occupy this newly-developed leadership position, Marshall-Oquendo’s primary responsibilities include providing timely city information to the public through various communication channels, increasing public involvement opportunities, updating the city’s website, working with the leadership team to develop an overall communication strategy, serving as an advisor to elected officials and coordinating media relations activities.
Marshall-Oquendo has more than 10 years of experience that includes a background in state government. From Kansas State University, she earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication and a bachelor’s degree in radio/television.
Prior to her current post, Marshall-Oquendo served as a communication specialist manager for SEH, an engineering consulting services firm in the Minnesota and as a principal account executive for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
James Pruetting will join the Gardner Police Department as the Chief of Police on Feb. 27.
Pruetting worked for the Kansas City Police Department for 31 years serving in various high-level positions. His background includes operational and budget management, policy development and improvement, labor relations, strategic planning as well as training and development.
“I am thrilled about this opportunity to serve a city that is seeing such population growth and economic development,” Pruetting said. “Not only am I looking forward to contributing my law enforcement experience, but I am excited to live and work alongside the great citizens of this community to enhance public safety.”
As the head of the department, Pruetting will lead a team of 34 employees. He also will help set the vision and direction for the police department along with managing operations and the department’s budget.
“What makes this such a special hire is that we were able to gather public input regarding what the people of Gardner wanted in a Police Chief,” Gardner city administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee said. “With the help of community partners, I believe we have the right person with a set of diverse skills and extensive experience to handle this complex job.”