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Charles Wood of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce


• Name: Charles Wood

• Job: Vice president of economic development for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

• Age: 39

• Education: Master's degree in economic development from University of Southern Mississippi

• Work: April 2011 to April 2012, president of Imperium Economic Strategies; June 2006-April 2011, senior vice president of economic development for the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce; May 1999-June 2006, director of economic development for College Station, Texas; 1998, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

• Personal: Married, one son

Charles Wood says that when a company is looking to open a new facility, the first question often asked is about the area's work- force.

"It's critical to have that work -force piece," said Wood, tapped as the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's new vice president for economic development.

Wood was picked after a national search to replace Trevor Hamilton, who took a top slot in Cincinnati, Ohio's, job-growth group. Wood will make $130,000 a year, officials said.

For the past year, Wood was president of an economic development consulting firm in Pensacola, Fla.

For nearly five years before that, he was senior vice president for economic development for the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. While there, he launched a new business incubator serving a five-county area and coordinated the setup of a downtown technology campus, according to the Chattanooga Chamber.

Wood also has worked at economic development groups in Texas, Alabama and Mississippi.

Tom Edd Wilson, the Chattanooga Chamber's chief executive, cited Wood's experience in business recruitment, existing industry support and incubators.

"We saw similarities between us and the experience he has accumulated," he said.

Wilson added that Wood spent over seven years in College Station, Texas, the home of Texas A&M. That should help him work with UTC, he said.

"He brings college-town experience to us, which should be helpful," said Wilson. "Education and work- force training continue to be a critical component."

Wilson is leaving his post at the end of this year. Former BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee executive Ron Harr has been selected to fill that job.

Wood said he wants to build on Chattanooga's success, such as wooing the Volkswagen auto assembly plant and other manufacturers.

In addition to the region's growing auto sector, Wood said the aerospace industry has similarities and is another area to target.

He also cited the area's efforts to grow its technology sector with such opportunities as EPB ultrafast Internet service and its proximity to Atlanta.

"You don't want to have all your eggs in one basket," Wood said.

He talked about the region's 40-year, long-range planning effort, adding that he worked on a 50-year initiative for Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

Wilson said the Chattanooga area "has got to start thinking as a region and not as a city or county. It's a different mindset."

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