Andy Merritt, the chief defense industry officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, is leaving his position at the organization to become state director for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

Merritt’s first day in his new position — replacing Chuck Poplstein — will be April 26, according to a news release issued Monday by Gardner’s office.

“I’m thankful for Chuck Poplstein’s years of service to Colorado as my State Director and am thrilled Andy Merritt has agreed to take his place,” Gardner said in the release. “Andy’s experience serving Coloradans will be a tremendous asset. I’m confident he will be a tireless advocate for the people of Colorado and I am looking forward to working with him to best serve my constituents.”

Merritt has been chief defense industry officer for the Chamber & EDC (formerly the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance) since January 2013, according to his resumé. Prior to that, he served as district director for Rep. Mike Coffman (2009-2013, state director for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (1997-2008) and as a field representative for U.S. Sen. Hank Brown (1995-1996).

“Andy brought a unique skill set, combining military service and time on congressional staff,” said Dirk Draper, CEO of the Chamber & EDC. “He’s a great guy, a great team builder and a friend.”

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While working for the chamber, Merritt was in charge of the organization’s Defense Development Division. He is also a U.S. Military Academy graduate and served as a U.S. Army officer in South Korea and at Fort Carson. 

Draper said that, while he regrets Merritt’s departure, the chamber has already started the process of searching for his replacement. A job listing is soon to follow, he said.

“All of us at the Chamber & EDC, as well as our many volunteers, will miss Andy,” Draper said. “We wish him well with Senator Gardner’s team.”