Former Verona Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Dave Phillips died Feb. 13 at 73 after several years of declining health.
After leaving the chamber, he worked as vice president of the Independent Bank of Verona, and later he became executive director of the Stoughton Area Chamber of Commerce, from 2008-13. Since 2013, he was the director of the Dane County Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
Born in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1946, Phillips attended the University of Maryland for undergraduate and graduate school before moving to Madison in 1974. Located around Dane County for the next few decades, his career focused on economic development.
In a November 2006 story about Chamber membership expanding to more than 300, Phillips’ leadership was cited as the momentum the organization needed. In August 2003, when he became executive director, the organization was coming off two straight years in the red, with dues often paid late and new recruits hard to come by.
“I think the Chamber had kind of hit a low point,” Phillips told the Verona Press then. “I did budgets for everything we did. I cut out anything that was losing money.”
Phillips said the community was “at the beginning of a wave” during those years, with Epic Systems building its campus and business owners eager for more networking opportunities. He said city leaders told him “they wanted a strong chamber.”
By the time Phillips stepped down in March 2006, membership had climbed from around 140 in August 2003 to 280.
In that story, Karl Curtis, who succeeded Phillips at the chamber, credited him for putting the chamber on solid financial footing while growing the membership.
“We were one catastrophe away from trouble,” he said. “Dave brought a sense of stability.”