County Economic Development head named first leader of Unified Williamson County Chamber of Commerce
Matt Largen, who has served as director of the Williamson County Office of Economic Development (OED) since 2008, has been selected as the first president and chief executive officer of the unified Williamson County Chamber of Commerce (WCCC), board Chairman Brad Dunn announced today.
Largen will assume his post by Feb. 1 to allow adequate time for a smooth transition at the OED, said Dunn, senior vice president with Pinnacle Financial Partners.
“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the first president and CEO of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce,” Largen said. “The potential of the new Chamber of Commerce in the healthiest, wealthiest, fastest growing, most well-educated county in Tennessee is limitless. I cannot wait to engage and collaborate with the business community – especially the small business community – to help make the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce a highly valued path to engagement for small to large businesses in Williamson County.”
As director of the OED, Largen has worked to coordinate and facilitate economic development in Williamson County and its six municipalities. The agency collaborates with both private and public partners to encourage job growth, support business start-ups and expansion, and recruit new companies to the county while also maintaining a commitment to a high quality of life for residents.
Largen was chosen from a very strong field of candidates compiled through a nationwide search of highly qualified professionals, Dunn said.
"Matt distinguished himself among the four finalists for the position of president/CEO and was the unanimous choice of both the Executive Search Committee and the Board of Directors," he added. "From the very beginning of this process, everyone understood the importance of bringing in the right leader – not only to implement a new vision for the Chamber, but also to complement the highly talented staff already in place. Matt’s ability to hit the ground running on day one with members and staff is going to be a huge benefit to the organization."
Former Franklin mayor and telecommunications businessman Jerry Sharber will continue in the role of Chamber interim general manager until Largen comes on board, Dunn said. Sharber started in that position in September after the members of three separate Chambers in the county voted to unify into a single organization. According to the guidelines established by the Chamber transition team and CEO search committee, Sharber was not eligible to be considered for the permanent leadership position.
In an overwhelming vote of approval in August, the Brentwood Cool Springs Chamber, the Cool Springs Chamber and the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber approved unification under the banner of the new Williamson County Chamber. The staff members of the three former Chambers are being integrated, and efforts are underway to establish a new office for the unified organization, which has some 1,500 business and individual members.
During Largen's tenure with the OED, more than 8,000 jobs have been created in the county as companies have relocated here and also targeted expansion, including Verizon Wireless, Jackson National Life Insurance, Mars Petcare and Tractor Supply. Largen authored a five-year strategic plan that identified business sectors for recruitment and made education a priority issue, targeting the development of more depth and talent in the information technology workforce to meet job demand. He also has established the OED as a regional presence by participating as a board member on the Nashville Technology Council and as chair-elect of the Tennessee Economic Partnership, among other activities.
“Matt has served Williamson County with integrity, and I am proud of the progress that has been made in economic development under Matt’s leadership,” said Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson. “I look forward to working with Matt and the leadership of the newly formed Williamson County Chamber of Commerce. There are many ways we can collaborate for the greater good of Williamson County, and I know the new Chamber is open to innovative partnerships that will help ensure we continue to maintain our ranking as the best place in Tennessee and in the Southeast to do business.”
Prior to his role as director of the Williamson County OED, Largen worked in business recruitment and marketing for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Partnership 2010, a regional, public-private economic development initiative. He held similar positions in Arkansas with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.
Largen earned a Master of Science degree from the University of New Hampshire in Durham and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Henderson State University Honors College in Arkadelphia, Ark. He was recognized as an emerging young leader in 2011 by both the Nashville Business Journal and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I have a passion for this special place that extends to my life as a father and as a member of the congregation of one of the fastest growing churches in Williamson County. I have a very personal stake in making sure we do not get complacent and that we work tirelessly to make sure Williamson County continues to be the greatest county in which to live, raise a family, worship, work, play and to invest in Tennessee for generations to come,” Largen said.
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 the 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 this year with the members' vote of approval.
Posted on: 11/26/2012