SHERIDAN — For Sheridan native Dixie Johnson, the wide open spaces of the Bighorn Mountains and small, close-knit communities of Sheridan County is what ignites her passion for helping local businesses. As CEO of Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, Johnson celebrates 11 years of growing alongside her team, volunteers and Chamber members.
The youngest of eight children, Johnson is a fourth-generation Sheridanite. Along with several cousins, aunts and uncles, her roots in the community go back to her great-great-grandfather who started ERA Carroll Realty Company in Sheridan, now owned by Thomas Belus.
When she moved away to Springfield, Missouri, with her husband and children, she couldn’t shake the feeling of missing Sheridan, her friends and family and its quality of life.
“It’s really important to me to try to raise our children back here in an area I grew up. I think this is the best place to raise a family, and that’s why we moved back,” Johnson said.
Before earning her position at the Chamber of Commerce, Johnson transitioned from a stay-at-home mother to a nine-year stint working in the sales and catering department at Holiday Inn. For a brief period, she worked as the executive director of the Bighorn Homeowners Association before being approached by members of the Chamber of Commerce for the director position at the end of 2010.
Over the years, Johnson and her team have helped the Chamber of Commerce grow. In 2012, the Chamber created the Leadership Steering Committee, which revamped a program from 1993 to help oversee leadership operations.
Another event that started under Johnson’s role as CEO has been the Chamber’s Ignite Conference, hosting its seventh event May. The program focuses on four different tracks: human resources, entrepreneurship in partnership with IMPACT 307, business growth and marketing communications.
Johnson said she has seen significant growth in Chamber Bucks. In 2010, Chamber Bucks given out were equivalent to $26,000, compared to 2021’s $239,000.
The hard work Johnson has contributed to the Chamber over the years is apparent, as the organization continues to be one of the most successful chambers in Wyoming, members mentioned during the annual membership luncheon in January.
Scot Rendall, director of IMPACT Sheridan, developed a close working relationship with Johnson through the repertoire of business initiatives.
Rendall, who served on the Chamber’s Business and Expansion Committee in the past, said the ever-growing membership in Sheridan is spurred on by Johnson and her team’s quality of information readily available and the passion that comes through in everything they do.
“Dixie cares about the community and that attracts people that care,” Rendall said.
He said Johnson remains committed to tasks and is present at every event.
“The Chamber activities I’ve participated in, Dixie is always there. Whether it’s Brewfest that is in the summer, she and her team spend all day putting that program on and cleaning up after,” Rendall said. “At the Ignite Conference, she’s probably there 12 hours, setting everything up. She’s there when the takedown is happening. She’s very, very committed to tasks. She puts in a lot of hours, and I think it goes back to the passion she has for making Sheridan a better place to live.”
As well as Johnson’s dedication to the Chamber’s mission, she said she is “intentional and mindful” of the community. The day-to-day interactions and connections are what make the Chamber successful, Johnson said.
“I think it’s that knowing that the work we’re doing is helping others in our communities is probably one of the most gratifying things,” Johnson said.