Hartford Chamber a perfect fit for Henke
Former mayor a lifelong resident of the city


June 21, 2015

Scott Henke, Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, works at his computer Friday in his office in Hartford. Henke assumed the job May 26. He served as the city’s mayor from 1998 to 2010.  
Joe Vandelaarschot/Daily News

HARTFORD — Being mayor and the head of the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce may be similar in a number of ways.

New Chamber Executive Director Scott Henke believes being Hartford’s mayor for 13 years has prepared him for his new job.

A lifelong resident of Hartford, Henke took over the Chamber’s reins May 26. He’s looking forward to helping make the community a better place to live, to visit and to own a business in.

“I’m not foreign to holding leadership roles,” Henke said. “My years as mayor and my involvement in other community groups has prepared me for this opportunity. It hurts when people talk bad about this community.”

Henke, who was the youngest mayor in the city’s history and the longest serving, feels the chamber must do four things to fulfill its mission — promote networking, share information, promote development and promote tourism.

“We need to hold each other’s hand and stick together,” Henke said. “We want to play well in the sandbox.”

He said he’s proud of his service to the city, and proud the city is willing to make improvements.

“We did some things while I was mayor that helped this city grow from a population of about 8,000 to about 14,000,” he said. “This city is near and dear to my heart.”

Chamber President Jason Wix said Henke’s experience is a perfect fit for the Chamber, and his enthusiasm his impressive.

“He not only wants to help the Chamber grow, but the community as well,” Wix said. “He’s been remarkable with the things he’s accomplished. In fact he said at a recent board meeting that he was afraid we would say ‘whoa’ to try to slow him down. But we want him to keep moving forward.”

Henke said one key that’s constant in all community improvements is the volunteers and others who work to make the city a better and more beautiful place. He believes economic development is also a key to a great place to work, play or visit.

“To do that we all need to realize it’s a partnership that really helps things happen. Economic development, keeping businesses here and letting others know the positive things about Hartford is a big job,” Henke said. “I’m not here to change the world, but we can do some great things if we all work together.”

Henke said his love of the community probably comes from family.

“One of my grandfathers owned a filling station and auto shop, another had a watch repair shop and my mother was heavily involved in the first fundraising effort for the Veterans Park pool back in 1958,” Henke said. “My mom is still very active in the community.”

Henke said Hartford has several things that can attract business and tourism.

“We’ve got the auto museum — where else can you see a Kissel car — the Schauer Center and we’ve got — the Mine Shaft,” Henke said. “And there are a lot of other great things about this community that make it a good place to live and visit,” Henke said. “The community also doesn’t know what’s in store for it when the U.S. Open comes to Erin hills in 2017. It’s going to mean millions of dollars pumped into the local economy.

“There’s going to be national and international visitors coming to the area for the tournament and providing a good impression to them can go along way to enhancing the community’s reputation,” Henke said.

Reach reporter Joe VanDeLaarschot at