Andera tabbed to lead Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Blain Andera, of Spirit Lake, on July 26 was named CEO of both the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Dave Petrick)

As executive director of the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce, Blain Andera’s job is to promote opportunities.

Now he has a new one of his own.

The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce on July 26 named Andera as CEO of both organizations.

“Blain’s experience and enthusiasm for the area is contagious and the members of each organization will be well served by his leadership,” IGL Board Chair Erin Davelaar said.

Andera has guided the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce since 2001. He’ll succeed interim executive director Ed Vos at the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber.

“The Spirit Lake Chamber has experienced fantastic growth under Blain’s direction and we look forward to seeing his skills applied at the Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce as well,” Spirit Lake Board Chair Matt Schmeling said.

Andera will split time in Arnolds Park and Spirit Lake as part of a full-time role, but there isn’t a preset number of hours expected at each site.

“That’s something that’s yet to be determined,” Andera said. “Going into it, we can’t say: ‘Every Tuesday and Thursday I’m going to be in the Spirit Lake office’ because I don’t know what’s going to transpire every day yet. So, the goal is to be involved at each chamber as much as needed to make each chamber successful. Obviously, if Winter Games is approaching, I’m going to spend more time in the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber office. If Spirit Lake has events coming up, such as BRASL, Cruise-In, the teacher luncheon and things like that, I’ll be spending more time in the Spirit Lake office.”

The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce has more than 400 members. The Spirit Lake Chamber has 180 members. Spirit Lake’s chamber office will continue to be staffed — even at times when Andera has responsibilities in Arnolds Park.

“For the Spirit Lake Chamber, I think it will be good because there was just one employee, which was me,” he said. “If I was out doing membership calls or setting up events, or attending meetings, the Chamber office — except for during the summer internship season — was just closed. This is going to be a good opportunity for the Spirit Lake Chamber to have staff.”

Andera was born in Platte, South Dakota, then moved to Newell in northwest Iowa. A return to South Dakota included stops in Flandreau, Harrisburg, Brookings and Watertown.

He attended South Dakota State University in Brookings. After college, he worked at the Vermillion, South Dakota, Yankton, South Dakota, and Worthington, Minnesota, Hy-Vee stores prior to moving to Spirit Lake.

"My career plan was to continue moving up the corporate ladder with Hy-Vee, but we fell in love with Spirit Lake and the Iowa Great Lakes area," Andera said. "I worked with Hy-Vee from 1984 until 2001 when I started working with the Spirit Lake Chamber."

Andera was elected mayor of Spirit Lake in 2008 and continues to serve the city. He is also vice chair of the Iowa Chamber of Commerce Executives, is a board member of the Spirit Lake Development Corporation, is past chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Winter Institute Board of Regents and recently completed a term on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute National Board of Trustees.

He was a finalist for the Mid-American Chamber Executives Executive of the year in 2017.

Andera's family includes his wife Kris, who works in the Dickinson County Attorney’s office. His daughter Miranda graduated from Spirit Lake in 2007. She is married and lives in Jefferson. Miranda and her husband Mike have two kids: Makenzie, 5, and Maxton who is almost 3.

Blain and Kris have a son, Cullen, who graduated from Spirit Lake in 2010. He moved back to the Iowa Great Lakes after college and works at Okoboji Boat Works. Cullen and Mari have a 3-month-old daughter, Henley.

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