The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance has added three people to its staff of 16.
Andrew Merritt is the Alliance’s new chief defense industry officer. He replaces Brian Binn, who was vice president of military affairs at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and now works at the Air Force Academy.
John Wilson will serve as vice president of business development. He replaces Jennifer Taylor, who now works at Bryan Construction Co.
Brittany Harp is the new marketing and communications manager. She fills a spot left vacant when Krithika Prashant went to work for the city of Colorado Springs.
The new staff positions “demonstrate a commitment by the Business Alliance in further developing and enhancing its defense industry, business development and marketing communications support for the region,” the press release said.
In addition, the group will hire a director of member investment fulfillment and volunteer engagement in the coming weeks.
The group is replacing several employees who left or were laid-off after the merger between the Chamber and the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., which joined to form the Business Alliance.
Meritt will manage the business development, legislative affairs and community outreach for the group. His new responsibilities will be to build relationships with members, military installations and aerospace and defense companies.
Merritt is the former district director for U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who represents Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Merritt, a U.S. Military Academy graduate who served as a Calvary Officer while stationed at Fort Carson, also served on the staffs of two former U.S. senators from Colorado, Wayne Allard and Hank Brown.
“In addition to his strong legislative and defense background, Andrew brings extensive economic development experience to his position,” said Joe Raso, president and CEO of the Business Alliance. “He assisted in securing funding for Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, Shriever Air Force Base, the and funding of programs with United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin, and the protection of missile defense funding with a variety of companies in the state.”
For his part, Merritt said he is excited about the opportunity, even in a difficult business environment.
“The defense and aerospace communities are integral parts of our region and I look forward to supporting them and helping them expand,” Merritt said. “Even in a difficult budget environment, there are opportunities to strengthen relationships and build new partnerships to grow our economy and support our great men and women serving in our military and defense industries.”
Wilson is responsible for expanding and executing the local industry program, which helps local employers maintain and expand their employment base. He’ll also support business recruitment and enterprise development within the business development division.
He joins the Business Alliance after serving as interim head of school for the Colorado Springs Charter Academy and working as a business consultant for more than four years at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center. He came to Colorado after running a consultancy in New York City.
“Business owners plan for and work to make their companies and organizations successful. Our role at the Business Alliance is to coordinate opportunities and reduce barriers that inhibit regional economic growth,” Wilson said. “A primary focus of my position involves interviewing business leaders, finding relevant patterns, and then working with them to help them thrive.”
Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in economics and a Master of Arts degree from Northwestern University in human development and social policy. He has served as a volunteer with the Pikes Peak Library District, Pikes Peak United Way, former Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, Peak Venture Group and The Brushfire Foundation.
Harp will develop and implement communications strategies and helps build the organization’s brand while communicating with internal and external audiences. She comes to the Business Alliance from Berwick Electric Co. where she held the position as marketing coordinator. Before Berwick, she was a marketing coordinator for State Farm Insurance in Waterloo, Iowa, and Colorado Springs. She also worked as an intern with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I am excited to be working with such a dynamic organization focused on meeting strong business and economic goals for our region,” Harp said. “I look forward to representing the Business Alliance as it evolves the Colorado Springs brand as a wonderful place to live and work and into a stronger top-of-mind destination for businesses looking to relocate to our region. As a team, we’ll work to promote the economic growth of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region while representing and supporting regional businesses.
Harp earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications/public relations from the University of Northern Iowa. She serves on the boards of the Public Relations Society of America/Pikes Peak Chapter and Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers. She is also a member of Colorado Springs Executives Association.
“The addition of these three professionals to our staff further enhances our abilities to support or member investors and further the economic growth and vitality of the region,” Raso said.