by: Mike Parker/ Austin American Statesman
Round Rock Chamber CEO Mike Odom has accepted the lead position with the Chamber of Commerce in Knoxville, Tenn., ending his five-year tenure as head of the local chamber. He will start his new position June 3.
Board Chairman David Hays said Odom oversaw a “true structural evolution” of the Round Rock chamber, transitioning the organization from being function-oriented to one heavily involved in workforce development and local business advocacy. Those efforts, he said, are reflected in the organization receiving the Chamber of the Year award last year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
“We hate losing Mike because he did a fantastic job and built a great team,” Hays said. “It’s not surprising that a university town — with the University of Tennessee involved in tech and science research — would want to recruit him.”
In a news release issued by the Knoxville Chamber, Odom said he is thrilled to join the organization, and is relocating to Knoxville with his wife and son. He will succeed Mike Edwards, who retired as the Knoxville Chamber’s CEO and president after serving for 16 years.
“Mike (Edwards) and his team have worked hard to establish an exemplary operation in Knoxville, and I am grateful for the opportunity to build upon this legacy,” Odom said.
Odom came to the Round Rock Chamber after serving as vice president of marketing at the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry. At the time, then-Chamber Chairman Bryant Smith called Odom a “proven leader with business vision and the ability to bring people together.”
In his five years as CEO, the Round Rock Chamber generated and retained over 4,700 new jobs and secured more than $800 million in capital investments, according to a Knoxville Chamber media release.
Within a year of being tapped to lead the Round Rock Chamber, Odom oversaw a four-point strategic plan with the goal of re-energizing its base and expanding its economic outreach. That initiative was followed by other programs, including Entrepreneurship Round Rock, which offers courses to help people bring their business ideas into fruition.
Odom’s team also collaborated with Austin Community College and the Round Rock school district in developing accelerated certification programs for skilled trades industries such as plumbing and air conditioning.
Last year the Chamber successfully petitioned for an election to change liquor service laws in a portion of Round Rock. Those laws, which were voted down in November, prohibited some establishments from serving mixed drinks without patrons having a “club membership.”
Hays said the chamber’s executive committee and board of directors are already beginning the process of finding the right to person to lead the chamber and build on Odom’s success.
“We want someone on the same wavelength,” Hays said. “We still want to be strong in economic development, and we want a leader that can move us forward.”
With Odom leaving, the chamber will put on hold its national search for its vice president of economic development position until finding its next CEO. Hays said finding the next chamber CEO should take two months, with the hope of having the new person starting about four months after being hired.
Hays said he expects a strong field of candidates vying for the position.
“We feel we’re a top-tier city with a top-tier chamber,” he said. “We really want the best talent.”