Chamber of Commerce CEO to Leave in July

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Harrison Pirtle
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Updated: 3/03 6:52 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF-TV) - One of the key players in local business and civic projects will be leaving his job July first.
Ron Harr is the president and C-E-O of the Greater Chattanooga area Chamber of commerce.
He announced Monday he's retiring for health reasons.

RON HARR, PRES. & CEO, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE "Basically, I'm at the point where I need to decide ..do I want to get rid of that daily stress and live longer , and that's an easy decision to make."

Ron Harr has led the Chamber for almost 2 years, succeeding longtime CEO Tom Edd Wilson.
Harr says he could not longer overlook the facts that hypertension..that struck his father at age 39, was also stalking him.
Leaving, he says, is hard.

RON HARR "Our chamber here in Chattanooga is as good as any in the country. And I've come to know that over the last two years . So my only words to them are: keep doing what you're doing."

BOB DOAK, PRES. CHATTANOOGA CONVENTION BUREAU "Ron does have a great team in place over there, and hopefully that we'll be able to..you know as a community..to move forward and not miss a beat. But he certainly is a great asset to this community."

Harr was a major player as Volkswagen came into its own....and other companies began looking closely at Chattanooga and its economy.
He's been working with other civic and political leaders on other projects like Thrive 2055,the 40 year initiative for the 16 county region, and the Chattanooga Forward project.

MAYOR JIM COPPINGER, HAMILTON COUNTY "When you're replacing the leadership of an organization,such as the Chamber...its extremely vital to the entire community.

Mayor Jim Coppinger says working with Volkswagen and other new plants takes a joint effort.

MAYOR COPPINGER "County government, we rely heavily upon the Chamber of Commerce ..to help us to assist us with recruitment ."

The Chamber board is already moving on a plan to find a replacement for Ron Harr.

An announcement on where Volkswagen will build its new S-U-V is still forthcoming.
A rejection of the United Auto Workers union last month, may be part of the reason.
But Harr was one of the first Chattanooga leaders to warn that a U-A-W presence at the plant might discourage other suppliers from locating here.


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