Alexis Willis, director of business support for The Company Lab, or CoLab, will join the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce next month as director of small business and entrepreneurship.
Willis will direct the activities of the INCubator, which is in the Hamilton County Business Development Center on the North Shore. She succeeds Kathryn Menchetti, who resigned from the post earlier this year.
"Alexis is a dynamic leader with a great background in our entrepreneurial ecosystem," said Charles Wood, vice president of economic development for the Chattanooga Chamber. "Her energy and enthusiasm will play a critical role in helping move the INCubator to the next level."
Willis will lead a team of five members at the INCubator, which helps business startups, including nearly 70 that are housed in Tennessee's biggest business incubator on the North Shore.
Clients at the incubator typically stay for up to three years before graduating. A recent economic impact survey reported INCubator clients generated $17 million in revenues and investment over the previous year.
During her tenure at Co.Lab, Willis helped built a partnership with LAUNCH Chattanooga and served as a certified Co.Starters facilitator, training dozens of startup owners. The Co.Starters program last year was nominated Startup Advocate of the Year by the community through the Chattanooga Startup Awards program.
Willis serves on the boards of the Virginia College of Business as well as Stove Works, a multi-use venue for artists. She's a founding member of the Greater Chattanooga Sankofa Fund for Civic Engagement, a giving circle committed to supporting Chattanooga's communities of color; and she served as a board member for the Leadership Chattanooga Alumni Association for two years, having graduated from the program in 2014.
Her first company, Natural Beautiful Me, was founded in 2011 as a platform to empower women to value their identity and embrace their natural beauty. Her second brand, The Red Lipstick Experiment, launched in 2013.
Willis is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and she will begin her new job at the INCubator on Jan. 8.