Director of Economic & Commercial Development
Speaks to Rotary Club
By Bob Augustin Jr.
Chad Chancellor, Executive Director of Economic & Community Development, was the featured speaker at the February 15, 2008 meeting of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club. T. R. Williams,Chair of the Board of Directors of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, introduced Chancellor to the club.
Chancellor came to Lawrence County from the Mobile, Alabama where he was the Project Manager of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. While he served as the Project Manager, Mobile successfully recruited the ThyssenKrupp Stainless Corporation to locate their new plant in Mobile, creating 6,000 new jobs. Prior to Mobile, he served as the Executive Director of the Wayne County Mississippi Chamber of Commerce.
Chancellor stressed to the club that he alone did not convince ThyssenKrupp to build its new plant in Mobile. It was a joint effort from the Chamber of Commerce, the elected officials from Mobile city and county, the state of Alabama, and the business community. He stated that he alone would not be able to attract jobs to Lawrence County. It will take everyone "partnering together" to achieve it. It will take a united front from every sector of the county to attract new industry.
To illustrate this, Chancellor said that, in the competition for ThyssenKrupp, it came down to Mobile and Louisiana. Louisiana offered an economic packaged that was $1 billion more than the package Mobile offered, but the company chose Mobile. He said after they received the good news, he asked the executives from ThyssenKrupp why they chose them when they had received a better financial offer from Louisiana. The executive said it was because the Mobile group knew each other by name. They were well acquainted with each other and worked together. The Louisiana group for the most part were meeting each other for the first time. ThyssenKrupp said they only had a limited time to get the plant up and running or they would lose a number of big contracts. Because Mobile's folks already had a good working relationship with each other, they would be able to get the plant built a lot quicker than Louisiana could.
Chancellor next addressed the present economic situation and laid out his game plan for rebuilding the economy in Lawrence County. First, we must accentuate the positive. We must promote Lawrence County's strengths to the world. Each of us must be an ambassador for the county and showcase it to anyone who will listen.
Second, we must get over the "Murray Mind Set." Murray is gone and will not be coming back. Chancellor said Mobile had a similar mind set after it lost 14,000 jobs with the closing of a military base in the 1970's. It took them nearly three decades before they exorcised their demons and moved forward, finally recuiting ThyssenKrupp among other businesses.
Third, Chancellor said he had been doing his homework and familiarizing himself with all that Lawrence County has to offer. This also means learning where utilities and supplies are located in the county. Before you can sell a product, you have to know the product.
Fourth, we must build political support. It will take the support of the county government and each municipality in the county to achieve this goal.
Fifth, we must focus on the existing industries in the county. We must offer them the same incentives we offer new industries. Also, we should conduct a Business Exposition to promote the businesses we already have.
Sixth, we must promote the Lawrence County as a tourist attraction and as a retirement community. Chancellor referred to the influx of new citizens to Lawrence County from other parts of the country as the best ambassadors we have for our community. They could have chosen to live anywhere and they chose Lawrence County.
Lastly, Chancellor stated that workforce development is vital to our efforts to recruit new industry. We must give our children a good education, preparing them for college. We must then recruit the college graduates, and this includes our own children, to come to Lawrence County to live and work. In addition, we must provide jobs for the non-college students. We must provide them with access to technical skills needed in today's work place.
In closing Chancellor shared with the club a quotation from Knute Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame football coach, which best summarized what we must do to succeed:" Build up our weaknesses until they are our strengths."