Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce executive search continues

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce executive search continues

January 28th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Chattanooga's top business recruitment group will pick two key leaders this year, and officials may have to cull through a couple hundred applicants to do so.

A panel to find a replacement for Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce chief Tom Edd Wilson, who is retiring in early 2013, has received 126 applications, officials said.

A national search also is under way to replace former vice president of economic development Trevor Hamilton, who took a top job in Cincinnati late last year for its business recruiting agency.

While the searches are on, a Chamber official said efforts to woo companies to Hamilton County are ongoing as well.

"Nothing is falling through the cracks," said J.Ed. Marston, the Chamber's vice president of marketing. "We're doing exactly what we've been doing for many years."

Tom Griscom, a public relations consultant tapped to head the search panel for Wilson's CEO slot, said the group has gotten a good mix of applicants from in the area and outside it.

A former Chattanooga Times Free Press publisher, Griscom said plans are to put together a short list of candidates and have the prospects for the Chamber to examine by late spring.

"We want to make sure to do a thorough review and do it in a timely way," he said.

Griscom said the CEO search has drawn Chamber types as well as outsiders with broader experience. He said the job calls for building partnerships and raising money for job-growth initiatives.

Wilson, a former banker, has led the business group for nearly a decade and overseen landing Volkswagen's auto assembly plant, Alstom's new factory and Amazon's distribution center. He was paid $272,898 to head the Chamber in 2009, according to the most recent IRS financial filings for the Chamber's nonprofit foundation.

Marston said Hamilton's job has been posted on regional, state and national websites and on listings for economic development and Chamber executives. That search will be open until the end of January, he said.

The Chamber official said the earliest Hamilton's post could be filled is two to three months from now. He said the job likely will be filled before a new Chamber CEO is picked.

Marston said Steve Hiatt, the Chamber's existing business recruiter, has stepped into a more direct role in recruiting prospects to Hamilton County.

"Steve is the point person," he said, adding the business group works as a team to woo companies.

The economic development arm of the local Chamber receives more than $1 million a year in public funding from Chattanooga, Hamilton County, TVA and EPB, and the business association also is supported by more than 1,500 business members.