Building the Futures in Nelson

A number of community and business leaders came out last week to mark the retirement of Paul Wiest (left) from the local Community Futures office. - Kirsten Hildebrand photo
A number of community and business leaders came out last week to mark the retirement of Paul Wiest (left) from the local Community Futures office.
— image credit: Kirsten Hildebrand photo

After 23 years at the helm of Community Futures, General Manager Paul Wiest is retiring from the organization.

Staff and directors of Community Futures recently held a surprise open house to celebrate his work. Many colleagues, friends and business associates attended with their congratulations and kind words.

Ramona Faust, referring to her early work on Harrop-Procter Community Forest thanked Wiest for recognizing businesses needing a “leg up.”

“There are businesses on the cutting edge that wouldn’t have normally had a chance,” she said.

A federal program, Community Futures fosters entrepreneurship throughout communities with advice, education and business loans for those who don’t qualify for traditional lending.

Wiest was humble while many commended him for his work in growing the local Community Futures organization, only four-years-old when he came on board. Able to take risks, his holistic approach and thinking outside the box, has strengthened the local business community.

“The strength of our economy is really based on what we can do together opposed to apart,” said Mayor John Dooley.

The leader is proud of the organization’s development and maturity that he attributes to his staff and strong volunteer board. He believes his legacy is the growth of Community Future’s investment fund — from $1 to 6 million — which is used to support local entrepreneurs.

Wiest is going to develop his own consulting business where he will continue finding ways to help people implement their ideas.

Community Futures has yet to replace the outgoing general manager.


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