BREAKING NEWS: Jerry Sharber chosen as interim general manager of the unified Williamson County Chamber
Local businessman and community leader Jerry Sharber has been chosen to serve as the interim general manager for the new unified Williamson County Chamber of Commerce.
Sharber will begin his duties as soon as his schedule allows, said Brad Dunn, who led the Chamber transition effort and has been tapped to be the organization's first chairperson.
The Chamber committee charged with recruiting and recommending a permanent chief executive officer/president expects to launch a national search once state government officials complete the required review of the Plan of Merger. In a near unanimous vote in August, members of the three unifying Chambers -- Williamson County-Franklin, Brentwood Cool Springs and Cool Springs -- approved combining the groups into one organization. The unification is expected to be official by Oct. 1.
"We are pleased to have Jerry taking on this crucial role as we look toward hiring a permanent leader of the new Chamber within the next six months or so," said Dunn, senior vice president with Pinnacle Financial Partners. "His broad expertise and deep community involvement make him a great choice for this interim time period, during which Chamber functions will be fully up and running to serve our members while we also begin developing the structure and vision for the unified Chamber."
"I'm a community-minded person, and this is a very exciting time for one Williamson, one Chamber," said Sharber, who most recently has been an adjunct faculty member in math with Columbia State Community College after working from 2003 to 2005 as a consultant for the Williamson Medical Center. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the staff and learning all their talents. From what I've been told, they're an impressive group. I'm looking forward to all of us working together as one big team."
Sharber said the overwhelming vote for unification showed "incredible vision" by Chamber members.
"We certainly want to try to grow our membership during this period," Sharber said, adding that businesses that haven't been active with one of the Chambers in the past will be attracted by the "unified voice" offered by the new organization.
Sharber served as mayor of the City of Franklin from 1989 to 2003, when the city saw its largest growth period in history. The budget grew from $9 million to $40 million, and the population increased more than 100 percent from 1990 to 2000, he said. As part of his mayoral duties, Sharber worked to recruit new businesses to the county, facilitated the establishment of the Cool Springs Conference Center, and spearheaded major administrative and operational changes in city government and services.
He spent nearly four decades in telecommunications in technical management, systems management and other positions, working his way up from his first job as a processing clerk. Sharber is a former Williamson County commissioner and has served as a leader and member on numerous local and statewide boards. He holds a master's degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor's degree in math from David Lipscomb College, now Lipscomb University.
According to the guidelines established by the Chamber Transition Board and CEO search committee, Sharber is not eligible to be considered for the permanent Chamber leadership position.
"As the interim general manager, Jerry will integrate the three Chamber teams into one, working with both the professional staff as well as volunteers, " said Dunn. "He also will have numerous administrative and operational duties related to the unification, including establishing a new office, getting databases consolidated, and assessing and meeting technology needs. Jerry's leadership qualities, experience in communications and organizational development, and knowledge of the county will be enormous assets for the Chamber during this time."
Forty-six business community leaders have joined the new Chamber's Founding Members Council (FMC) in support of the unification effort, with donations ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. This historic opportunity is still available to any business, organization or individual as recruitment has been extended through Dec. 31 to allow businesses that have expressed an interest to learn more. More information about the FMC is available on the Chamber transition website, 1W1C.org.
The move toward unifying the three Chambers started in 2009 when community leaders began an informal dialogue about bringing the groups together to better serve their members and the businesses and people of Williamson County. A study group with representatives from all three Chambers began work in 2011, and the unification was approved by all three Chamber boards by August of that year. A Transition Board was appointed to oversee the on-going unification effort, which culminated in the last weeks of August with the members' vote.
Posted on: 9/20/2012