Round Rock chamber selects new president

The Round Rock Chamber of Commerce/Economic Development Partnership has completed its seven-and-a-half-month search for a new president and CEO.

The chamber announced May 9 it has chosen Mike Odom, who currently serves as vice president of marketing at the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, to fill the position vacated by previous chamber president Doug Kurkul in September.

Odom will begin his new duties on or before June 9.

Round Rock Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bryant Smith said he was impressed with Odom's excitement about Round Rock and his personable nature.

"You felt like you had known him for a long time. We felt he was the right person to lead our community and our organization," Smith said. "Being involved with the community and living here is very important to him [He's] excited to get here."

The chamber chose Odom from a national pool of more than 80 candidates. The search was led by Affion Public, an executive-level staffing company that Round Rock used to find Police Chief Allen Banks, who started in March, and City Manager Steve Norwood, who started in 2011.

Prior to his time at the LABI, Odom served as senior vice president of marketing and operations at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber from 2006 to 2012. His prior experience includes multiple senior marketing positions at various casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi.

"We felt his management style and skills from the casino industry would translate well with the chamber staff," Smith said, adding that Odom's marketing experience will help the chamber build its branding and community outreach efforts.

Odom will lead a chamber whose structure is unusual for the U.S. In most cities, the chamber of commerce is responsible for retaining and managing existing businesses while an economic development department or corporation is responsible for recruiting new ones. In Round Rock, those two entities are one in the same.

Smith said the chamber has been growing even without a president and CEO, and he credited interim president Shontel Mays and Vice President of Economic Development Ben White with keeping the chamber healthy.

"Those two individuals really pulled it together with the staff to keep us firing on all cylinders," Smith said. "We continued to grow without a CEO, so I can't wait to see what will happen with a CEO."

Former chamber president Kurkul resigned in September after serving three years. During Kurkul's time at the helm, the Round Rock chamber successfully negotiated for the relocation or expansion of several large businesses into the city, including Emerson Process Management, IKEA and Bass Pro Shops.

Kurkul is the third prominent chamber official to resign in the past several years. He replaced previous chamber president Tom Manskey, who resigned in April 2010. Joe Vining, who served as interim president while the search for Kurkul was underway, resigned from the chamber in August 2011 to take a job in the private sector.


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