The following is a Q & A between The Carthage Press to the new Carthage Chamber of Commerce President and City of Carthage Economic Director, Mark Elliff.
1) Tell Carthage Press readers about yourself. Where are you from?
I was born in Carthage and have lived here for the past 44 years with the exception of when we lived in Joplin and Boonville, Mo. I graduated from Carthage Senior High and from MSSU with a BS in business administration. I am a true Carthaginian as my mother attended Mark Twain School. (I've always been told that was a requirement to be a true Carthaginian).
2) What did you do before coming to the Chamber?
I have been in banking for 34 years, starting as a teller and working up to a president / CEO at UMB Boonville and then back to Carthage with UMB and then Hometown Bank. During high school and part of college, I worked for KDMO-KRGK (now KMXL) and originally had planned on going into radio as a profession. Back in high school, I would also shoot pictures of the basketball games for The Carthage Press.
3) What inspired you to pursue this position with the Chamber?
I have always been involved in the community and specifically with the Chamber of Commerce. If I had not been in banking, two other career options were working as a hospital administrator or in a Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development position. Also, several people suggested that when this position opened, I should apply. It felt like a natural progression. I also feel that this gives me the opportunity to give back to a community that has been very good to me.
4) All past Chamber presidents have had something special to contribute to the position, what are some of your hopes and goals for our Carthage Chamber?
The Chamber is very fortunate to have two exceptional people working at the Chamber, Neely Myers and Mary Jo Little. They really take care of the day-to-day business. This will allow me to spend the majority of my time on economic development. I feel that with my banking background, I can bring a different approach to economic development in Carthage. My two main goals are to work with existing businesses of all sizes to help them succeed in their growth and prosperity and work to bring in new businesses and industry to our community. Of course, the Myers Park and the CID are at the top of the list to fill with new businesses.
5) Who has inspired you the most in life? Why?
My children have been a big inspiration in my life. When our son was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, his attitude was so positive as he faced this disease. In December 2010, our daughter was diagnosed with LGL (Large Granular Lymphocytic Leukemia). As a single mom with two very active children, her attitude is absolutely fantastic. She faces each day with a positive attitude and the mindset that she is going to conquer this disease. Her strong faith in God is what keeps her going. Also, my wife is a real trooper, stepping up to take care of our two granddaughters when our daughter isn't feeling well, which is almost a daily occurrence. In addition to her daily activities, she and several other ladies make lap quilts to take to the KU Cancer Center around Christmastime to give to the cancer patients. For the past five years, she has delivered about 56 quilts each year. Their attributes are what I strive for.
6) When you're not working, what do you enjoy doing?
In 2005 I got my private pilot's license. I truly enjoy flying a Cessna 172 around the area or on short trips. I also enjoy fly fishing and golf. The only problem is, there just doesn't seem to be enough time to enjoy these things. Most of all, I enjoy being around my granddaughters.
7) Tell us about your family. How long have you been married?
My wife, Vicki, and I will have been married for 33 years this coming June. We have a daughter, Jennifer, and our son, Jonathan, was 23 when he passed away. We have two granddaughters, Shay who is five, and Brooke who will be three in July. My mother and two sisters live in Carthage as well as my mother-in-law and father-in-law.
8) What do you consider to be Carthage's greatest aspect?
That is hard to answer. Carthage has many great aspects, beginning with a rich history such as the first battle of the Civil War. We have a very diversified economic base. We have caring and selfless people who live and work here. Wonderful architecture and beautiful Victorian homes. A strong educational system, good city government and departments, dedicated police and fire departments, appealing parks system and I could go on and on. Carthage is just a great place to live and work.