Scott Smathers, vice president of economic development for GO Topeka, announced today that he will be leaving the organization early in October. Smathers, who has worked for GO Topeka for nearly three years, said, “I have enjoyed working and living in Topeka and collaborating with so many organizations, elected officials and other individuals committed to the area’s economic prosperity. We have a very strong staff with excellent momentum underway, and I’m proud to have been a part of that.”
Before joining GO Topeka, Smathers worked as vice president of the Denison Development Alliance and the Denison Industrial Foundation in Denison, Texas, for 10 years. Before that, he spent 19 years employed by a retail analysis and consulting company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he worked with various industries around the world.
“Although my family and I have been happy to call Topeka home, I am eager to explore some additional opportunities that have come about recently through my contacts in other communities,” he said. “In order to do that effectively, I believe that it’s best to be upfront about my intentions.”
As GO Topeka board members and employees prepare for the organization’s 2018-2022 strategic plan, Smathers said it made sense to give the GO Topeka team advance notice that he did not anticipate remaining in the community through the strategic plan’s next phase.
“This is a pivotal time for Topeka, and we appreciate and respect Scott’s candor and flexibility in assisting us through the next three months as we begin preliminary work to take Topeka and Shawnee County to the next level,” said Matt Pivarnik, president and chief executive officer of GO Topeka and the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “Scott is well-respected in the economic development community and any city in the country would be lucky to have his expertise. We are thankful for all of Scott’s great contributions to our area’s growth and vitality and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Mayor Larry Wolgast said, “Scott has played a valuable role during his tenure in Topeka and we have benefited significantly from his efforts. In the past two years, we’ve announced more than 500 jobs and more than $200 million in capital investment for our community and we anticipate more announcements in the near future.”
Scott Griffith, chair of the GO Topeka board of directors, said, “Scott’s leadership and vision helped us expand GO Topeka programs and launch new initiatives specifically designed to support small businesses, including 712 Innovations, a new incentive program to help participants purchase equipment and training and the Washburn University pitch contest collaboration.”
“Scott’s input and involvement have enabled Topeka and Shawnee County to aggressively pursue workforce development opportunities,” said Shelly Buhler, chair of the Shawnee County Commission. “A Washburn Tech scholarship program and manufacturing programs in our area high schools are helping us prepare our young people for positions with existing companies as well as new ones considering entering our marketplace.”
In addition to these accomplishments, Smathers has played an instrumental role in food manufacturing training opportunities, veterans initiatives and programs that have enhanced existing business retention and new business development efforts.
For the next three months, Smathers will focus on providing strategic advice to Pivarnik and the board, working on budgets, transferring knowledge to staff members and assisting with key initiatives such as an East Topeka learning center for which he has been advocating.