Hometown: Three Forks, Montana
Daniel Brooks is the Business Advocacy Director of the Billings Chamber of Commerce. Whether it's leading the "NextGEN" group of future leaders or putting together training for those considering running for public office, Brooks is a passionate advocate for making the community better, one person at a time. He understands that in order to make Billings more attractive to young professionals, you can't just take for granted that they'll come -- you have to recruit them.
How did you become involved in the Billings Chamber of Commerce?
Very fortunate timing. Shortly after returning to Montana and beginning my job search, a friend informed me of an opening at the Billings Chamber. It was an opportunity to get my foot in the door and show the value I can provide.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Getting to work with our talented Billings Chamber team and our great community leaders that want to move Billings forward.
You support local businesses. What is the most pressing need facing the businesses that you serve?
Attracting and retaining a talented workforce is the most important need for our business community. In the next 10 years Billings employers will need to fill 30,000 job openings due to business growth and retirements. Even if we could retain every individual coming into the workforce, we would remain significantly short of the 30,000 we need. In order to meet that need, we must continue to build a community attractive to the talented workforce we seek.
How have you helped shape the next generation of leaders through the Chamber?
Two important aspects of my job at the Billings Chamber are awareness and engagement. We keep our members up-to-date through e-communications, events like our Tax Reform Breakfast, and initiatives like “Elections Have Consequences” in which we graded local candidates and hosted a candidate forum. We also encourage our membership to engage with elected officials through our online advocacy platform, meet them at events like our Coffee with Councilpersons, and serve on open city boards and commissions. As a member of the Billings Chamber’s NextGEN group, I put an extra emphasis on the involvement of my fellow NextGEN members.
What is your hope for Billings in the next 10 years?
I hope our city is realizing the additional economic impacts of One Big Sky Center investment. With a regional convention center and two development districts incentivizing investment in our downtown and hospital corridor, I’m optimistic we will see record growth in our business sector along with the attraction and retention of the talented workforce our businesses need.
What is the biggest obstacle facing our community during that same time?
Our biggest obstacle is funding for community projects. It will be increasingly difficult to continue building our great community if the funding burden is borne primarily by our property owners. Our state attracts more than 12 million visitors who use our services without paying a general or local option sales tax. We need to allow local communities to relieve our property owners and tap into tourists to help fund our community needs.
What makes the next generation of leaders in our community different than previous generations?
I think the biggest difference between this generation and others stems from history and circumstance. Our Millennial generation is the most educated and heavily burdened by debt. And having recently entered the workforce during the Great Recession, many faced challenges requiring unconventional and entrepreneurial thinking that has reshaped mindsets. Out of necessity our generation learned to meet challenges with innovation and reconsideration of the status quo.
What is Billings’ biggest advantage for young professionals looking to locate here?
There is a lot of opportunity to establish your career here. As the labor market continues to lose Baby Boomers to retirement, and our business sector grows, there is plenty opportunity for advancement. And if you enjoy the natural and cultural amenities, Billings can be your trailhead to a great work-life balance. We’ve got parks, trails, and the mountains out your backdoor as well as a great downtown scene. To top it all off, we’re much more affordable and have far less traffic than larger metro areas in the U.S.
What is the accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Earning my Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and the title, Marine.
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Playing Destiny or Rory McIlroy PGA Tour on the Xbox.