“We have a competitive advantage here in Camp Verde,” said Spangler, who served as economic development director in Sedona for six-and-a-half years. “Camp Verde is one of the last communities that has agricultural rural character and a very cool historic downtown. There’s a lot of opportunity here and a great plan in place, alongside a coordinated effort and direction from the council, to move forward.”
Maintaining the persona of the Town of Camp Verde is one of Spangler’s top priorities. “Change is inevitable, like death and taxes, but I think our job is to make sure we’re balancing those community needs and values. We want Camp Verde to stay the way it is, but we also want the good stuff, like jobs. My role is not to copy what Sedona or Cottonwood or any other municipality is doing, but to leverage what we want and define what our niche is.”
The Verde Valley encompasses Sedona, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Prescott, Cornville, Jerome and Lake Montezuma. “When you work in one municipality here in the Verde Valley, you work regionally. It’s the only way to make changes happen, so I’ve been working with my counterpart, former Town of Camp Verde Economic Director Steve Ayers, for several years.” Ayers just recently retired.
“When it came time to start a succession plan, I knew my first choice would be Molly. She has the skill set Camp Verde will need over the coming years to move forward in a thoughtful and strategic way,” said Ayers. “I couldn’t be happier that she accepted the position, knowing she will be the person leading Camp Verde’s economic development efforts for the foreseeable future.”
Small-town living is familiar to Spangler, as she grew up in Bluffs, Illinois, where the population was about 800. After college, Spangler joined the Peace Corps and spent a lot of time doing economic development work because she wanted to focus on environmental studies, which was not popular at the time.
“I was told that nobody cared about environmental work, so that’s when I started working in community and economic development and got my master’s in economics. I worked in Illinois for a few years before moving to Wyoming, where I stepped into the position of their state’s economic development agency, the Wyoming Business Council. I was there eight-and-a-half years and ran their Investment Ready Communities division.”
“Molly and I haven’t worked together long, but so far I’m really impressed with what she brings to the table,” said Camp Verde Interim Town Manager Gayle Mabery. “She has literally jumped in with both feet and has engaged the business community, working collaboratively with all the departments. I look forward to great things to happen in Camp Verde as a result of her efforts.”
Spangler joked that her primary goal is to find the bathrooms and conference rooms and learn everyone’s name. “The goals here are not my goals but the goals of the Town Council,” said Spangler. “Everyone I’ve been working with has been pretty wonderful. Our primary objective is to make sure we are moving along in our five-year community and economic development strategic plan. Top on the list is Main Street development and revitalization. We just had our first meeting.”
Another primary objective is to construct a sewer line along Highway 260 to have adequate infrastructure for future development.
The team at Town of Camp Verde Economic Development consists of Economic Development Specialists Crisi Clark and Sean Brooks, as well as three ambassadors at the visitor’s center.
“I feel that Camp Verde is very fortunate to have Molly on board. With her experience in economic development and her love of the area, she will be a great leader for our team and community,” said Clark.
“I worked with Molly in Sedona for about a year when I was with AmeriCorps Vista, also serving as economic specialist,” said Brooks. “I couldn’t be happier that she’s my director again. The transition has been smooth and positive and she will do great things for this community. She’s a great boss and incredibly smart. She knows economic development inside and out and I’m looking forward to our accomplishments together. She will do great things for this community.”
Outside of work, Spangler spends time with her husband, Andy, an elementary school teacher, and their 9-year-old son.
From the economic development front, FrameTec, a manufacturer and framing services company, has announced its expansion to Camp Verde. The business plans to operate out of a 110,000-square-foot facility and is scheduled to be open by 2024. FrameTec expects to create more than 180 new jobs.
“Smart people ask questions,” was the advice I’ve been given, and I routinely give the same advice. In an effort to not make assumptions and to better understand the issues, we have to ask questions. I now say this regularly to my son, my team and myself, for the only way we can learn and help is to ask questions.
My Role Models
Nothing’s more inspiring than watching a professional live their values of creating change, being brave and doing what it takes to see their goals come true. It’s inspiring when people volunteer their time to serve on boards and run for elected office to make a positive impact on their community. Many of my role models balance motherhood, professional jobs and adversity and that’s what motivates me to keep doing the work I get to do!
What I Would Tell My Younger Self
I would tell her to spend more time enjoying the process and journey. Some of my fondest professional moments have been working with great partners on difficult projects. Those projects often felt insurmountable, but it was a true pleasure working alongside great people.
My Ideal Vacation
My ideal vacation involves spending time with people I love and exploring beautiful scenery. I love seeing different parts of our country and the world, meeting new people, experiencing new things and culture, and partaking in their local foods and traditions.
On a Day Off
I love to read, hike, cook new recipes, do art and painting with my son, volunteer, and help family and friends. FBN
By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN
Photo by V. Ronnie Tierney, Fresh Focuses Photography: Camp Verde Economic Development Director Molly Spangler loves the historic town’s character and possibilities.