by David Barer/Community Impact Newspaper
President & CEO of Round Rock Chamber of Commerce
ROUND ROCK, Texas- Mike Odom took over as president and CEO of the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce/Economic Development Partnership on June 2. He was previously vice president of marketing at the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry. He also served as an executive at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce. Doug Kurkul, the previous Round Rock chamber president and CEO, left in September 2013.
Can you very briefly describe the role of the chamber?
Economic development is a big part of what the chamber does for the community, and we have many investors who invest in us to execute the economic development program for Round Rock. Along with that, the city of Round Rock contracts with us to be the economic development agent for the city. The city’s contract dollars are pooled with the private business community dollars we are able to capture to help generate a unified economic development strategy.
What about Round Rock and the chamber interested you in this position?
From a chamber of commerce perspective, the Round Rock community has everything that you could possibly want. It is a very dynamic, business-oriented place where businesses and residents want to live. For me to be a part of that and to be a part of the organization that speaks on behalf of the business community was something that was very intriguing at this point in my career.
What has been your first order of business as the head of the chamber?
It has been to get out and talk to as many people as I can possibly talk to, from staff members, to business leaders, to board members, to elected officials, to stakeholders. Anybody that would give me a little time to talk about the chamber and the community, I’ve really sought them out. For the first three months or so, that is pretty much my goal.
What is the biggest challenge facing the chamber in the long term?
The biggest challenge for the community is managing growth; I have heard that repeatedly from leadership in this area. We have had unbelievable growth with no indication that it will stop anytime soon. We understand as a business community that we have to manage that growth to ensure that it is done in the right way so that we can continue to be successful into the future.
What do you see as a major misconception people have about the chamber?
I believe that many times people may not see the opportunities that the chamber actually can and should be involved in. There are many areas that affect the business community that the chamber can help address and lead on.
What about Round Rock and the new job has surprised you?
The willingness of the business community to do what it takes to be successful in the long term. It is unusual to find a community that is this willing to get involved and to ensure that the community is set up for economic success long into the future.
In what areas can the chamber/EDP use improvement?
We need to ensure that we are providing value to our investors every day in everything that we do.
How can Round Rock’s citizens get more involved in the chamber?
The chamber has an unbelievable amount of opportunities for engagement. No matter what your perspective or your time requirements, we have a number of ways to be a part of the organization. It is important that you as a businessperson find what is most interesting or most effective for your time and engage at that level.