New Chamber President Says He Will Keep A Local Focus
Chris Hembrough said he wasn't looking for a new job. He's been the Executive Director of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past 7 years.
"I wasn't looking around, but sometimes opportunities come your way, especially when trusted folks give you a lead of advice. So I threw my hat in the ring," Hembrough said.
Hembrough was selected as the new President and CEO of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, starting July 1.
"I think the appeal for me is a thread that has always run through my professional as well as personal life. Making a significant difference in the community that I am part of."
It's been an interesting road that brought Hembrough to the new role. A Springfield native who starred at Griffin High in football, he went on to play at the University of Miami and was part of a national championship team. He obtained a Divinity degree and helped start a church in the Richmond, Virginia area. He came back to Springfield and ran a dry cleaning chain before moving on to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"I know what it's like ton have to meet payroll as a small business owner. I know the challenges that come your way with HR. I think I have a well rounded mix of leadership and business experience," he said.
Hembrough says the top priority with economic development will be local.
"To really retain and expand existing businesses in our community. Those that are part of the chamber, and those who aren't. One of the first things I want to do is spend time listening to our members, to our existing businesses. To understand their needs and what resources and tools we can bring to bear on their circumstances and situations that will help them."