In a national economy that has experienced a forgettable period in its history, the city of Devils Lake has grown in the opposite direction: up, and Chris Schilken has been a monumental part of that.
For the past five years, Schilken has served as the town’s economic developer, a role charged with the responsibility of encouraging potential business ventures to occur in Devils Lake, such as the Applebees currently being built and the Super Walmart that will soon be constructed.
The job also commands strong people skills, the ability to keep potential investors committed to developing their interests in Devils Lake while not scaring them away in the process. These are attributes that Schilken has used to his advantage during his time with the city, and now he is moving on.
Schilken has accepted another job in Minot, and his contributions to Devils Lake will surely be missed.
“Chris has done an excellent job. We hate to lose him,” mayor Richard Johnson said. “This city was awful stagnant for a number of years, but a lot of good things have happened in this community recently, and a lot of that can be attributed to Chris' efforts.”
After five years in Devils Lake, Schilken, a Minot-area native, is now preparing to move back to his hometown after accepting a management position with the Prairie Federal Credit Union. While it was a difficult decision for him to move from Devils Lake, a town which he seems to care a great deal about, he claims that the decision to move on was largely influenced by family ties.
“The family aspect has always been strong for me,” Schilken said, “so that was a big part in my decision.”
Though he is leaving Devils Lake, Schilken knows that he will always feel a connection with this place.
According to him, the decision to leave certainly wasn't an easy one.
“It's bittersweet,” Schilken said. “This is a great city, and I'm not saying that just because it's been my job to say that. It really is. Devils Lake has been great to me, and the friendships I've made here will continue.
“This city was very good to me.”
Now, the mayor and other local representatives will have the difficult task of replacing their star economic developer. Priority one: maintain the economic momentum that the city currently enjoys.
According to Johnson, Schilken's replacement could be announced as early as Monday.