The former business development director for Chattanooga-based construction company EMJ Corp. will leverage his skills to help companies craft more jobs in Southeast Tennessee.
Sam Wills, a 20-year EMJ employee, was tapped by state officials as the new regional director overseeing economic development in the Chattanooga region.
He replaces Patsy Hazlewood, who resigned earlier this year to seek a seat in the state House of Representatives.
Wills is to oversee the state's job-growth efforts in Hamilton, Bradley, Bledsoe, Grundy, Marion, Polk, Rhea, McMinn, Meigs and Sequatchie counties.
He will serve as the primary point of contact for existing industry expansions and will help attract new businesses, align workforce development strategies and support other regional economic and rural development initiatives.
"He will help continue the positive economic development momentum prevailing in the Southeast Region," said Bill Hagerty, Tennessee's Economic and Community Development Department commissioner. "His leadership will be impactful in the area since he has worked with many of our incumbent industries throughout his career and has well-established relationships throughout the region."
At EMJ, Wills most recently assisted in the procurement of industrial projects for the company, including Volkswagen, Wacker Polysilicon, Occidental Chemical and others.
Wills also has experience in working with other business sectors including health care, education, retail, hospitality, warehousing and distribution, according to the state ECD office.
He is a graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and earned a master's of divinity degree from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis.