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Salem Business Legacy: Skyward Ambitions – Brent Dehart’s Commitment to Community Progress

Written by Wyatt Jones on Aug. 24th, 2023
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Brent Dehart’s multifaceted leadership story isn’t merely a tale of industry advancement. As the dynamic President of Salem Aviation Fueling and Chair of the Fly Salem Steering Committee, Dehart has seamlessly integrated his professional pursuits with a mission to uplift the Salem community.

This pursuit finds its roots in Dehart’s familial ethos. “My father’s commitment to community service instilled in me the importance of providing real value to others,” shared Dehart, echoing his foundational drive. Eschewing the fleeting allure of fame and fortune, he added, “I’ve always wanted to be helpful and provide real value to others.”

His transformation into an influential community figure was catalyzed by his experiences with Leadership Salem. This program offered him an enriched understanding of Salem’s challenges and potential. “Leadership Salem really boosted my confidence,” Dehart fondly recalled, citing the encouragement from community stalwarts like Mike McLaran and former Salem Mayor Janet Taylor as the wind beneath his wings.

Dehart’s journey, however, wasn’t devoid of adversity. Speaking of the ambitious Fly Salem initiative, he noted, “Some people simply don’t want to rationally discuss topics and the pros/cons. It’s hard to argue with what I call ‘purposeful ignorance.'” Yet, fueled by a vision of community progress, Dehart persisted, viewing challenges as stepping stones rather than barriers.

While Dehart modestly downplays his individual contributions, his impact on Salem’s landscape is undeniable. Reflecting on his role, Dehart mentioned, “I believe nothing will have a greater impact over a 10-year span than bringing passenger flights to the Mid-Valley.” His tireless endeavors, particularly in reinstating passenger flights, promise to leave a legacy for Salem’s future.

Beyond his institutional roles, Dehart has always been an advocate for community empowerment. Citing his past radio show and his tenure at the Salem Chamber of Commerce, he emphasized, “The world is run by those who show up,” capturing his conviction in the power of active civic involvement.

Navigating the myriad views within the community, Dehart’s balanced approach to contentious issues, like the tree ordinance during his City Council tenure, underscores his commitment to inclusive polic

ymaking. Recounting the 2015 transit tax discourse, Dehart acknowledged the divisions but stressed the need for constructive dialogue to keep community unity intact.

Looking ahead, Dehart’s excitement for the Salem Airport is palpable. He sees it as a powerhouse poised to contribute vastly to Salem’s socio-economic landscape. “From Life Flight saving lives to fighting fires to agricultural uses, an airport is vital to a region,” he emphasized.

In essence, Brent Dehart’s journey underscores the interplay between professional ambition and civic responsibility. Through his words and actions, he offers a compelling blueprint for making a meaningful impact on Salem’s future, serving as an inspiration for business leaders and professionals alike.

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