The Greater Fayetteville Chamber hopes to have an announcement about its new CEO by the end of the month.
If things go as planned, the new leader will soon be running the chamber at a new location across Murchison Road from Fayetteville State University.
“We don't have a date at this point. It’s in process,” said Gary Rogers, chairman of the chamber board. “Obviously, there’s construction going on. Fayetteville State has been absolutely wonderful trying to make sure that it will be efficient for us. So, we don't have a date."
Interviews with candidates for the CEO/president position have been conducted over the past two or three weeks, according to Rogers.
“We’ve had a very good pool of people interested in the position. We put together a committee from our members, and they are leading that, doing the interviews. And they will bring their choices to the board. And then we will go from there,” he said.
“The goal is by the end of the month” to have a new CEO selected.
Rogers said the interest level in the job “has been great. We’ve had several applicants.”
Included in the mix of applicants, he said, “were some really good local ones. Honestly, that’s one of the biggest focuses that we have — trying to find someone that already has a history in our community and works well with the community. We figure that a transition like that comes easier.”
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Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said he had no role in the chamber’s decision to move its offices from Ray Avenue, at Festival Park, to Bronco Square, a business center owned by Fayetteville State since 2021.
“That’s not city property,” he said. “I think that was something they and Fayetteville State worked out.”
FSU announced in October that new retail businesses, including a Chic-fil-A restaurant, will open at the center as part of a revitalization plan as well as a renaming of the center to Bronco Midtown Business Center.
At the same time, the chamber announced its intent to move to the center.
Just weeks earlier, the university said it would open the Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur and Business Hub there “as a symbol of FSU’s economic leadership and commitment to the community.”
Colvin said the first time he heard about the changes at Bronco Midtown was when FSU Chancellor Darrell Allison announced them during a news conference on Oct. 20.
Tammy Thurman, who was then chairwoman of the chamber of commerce, announced the chamber’s move at the same time.
“I think it’s a good move, trying to increase the economic mobility of the area,” Colvin said. “Anytime you provide a resource for businesses to network, to connect to resources and relationships, it’s positive. The chamber historically had the best diversity record. I think working with Fayetteville State when you’re trying to increase business advancement, it’s positive. I’m happy to see the partnership.”
The strip shopping center is at the corner of Filter Plant Drive and Murchison Road. The City Council is considering a request to change the name of Filter Plant Drive to Bronco Village Drive.
Toni Cooper, interim president and CEO of the chamber, said part of the reason for the organization’s move is a lack of room at its Ray Avenue headquarters.
“We needed a bigger space,” Cooper said. “With the new construction going on at Midtown, it was perfect for us to move into that space. We’ve been here quite a while now, and it made more sense to move to the space on Murchison Road."
Chamber board Chairman Rogers said the organization is always looking for opportunities to expand.
“We found an opportunity with them that will give us a little bit more opportunity for room,” he said of FSU. “And we can help be a catalyst in that area because I know they’re trying to build up that area, of course, around Fayetteville State. … We wanted to help be a part of that.
“Our hope (is) always opportunities for growth, no matter where it is, …” Rogers said. “Fayetteville State has continued to grow their business school, and a lot of their growth has been tremendous. And partnering with them and different organizations and chamber members has been a highlight for us. Over there, of course, we're hoping that area continues to grow. Obviously, it's not the only area we want to grow, but to me, that's a good start.”
With the move, Rogers said, the chamber will still be centrally located.
The organization has five full-time and part-time employees, he said.
“We want to continue to be a catalyst for the growth of our businesses and community,” Rogers said. “Obviously, more than anything, we want to create the opportunities for businesses to work together but to find opportunities to work with the city and county and several other organizations to make everyone bigger and better. And, hopefully, make things easier for growth."
According to the chamber’s website, its roots date back to 1899 and it has operated under various names and structures over the years.
In July 2008, the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce was formed. Four years later, the Fayetteville Area Economic Development Corp. and the Fayetteville Regional Chamber divided into two separate organizations, and the Greater Fayetteville Chamber name was formally adopted.