AIKEN - In early September, Dr. Tom Hallman, who was heading the search to find a new president for the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, called his friend, David Jameson, to see if he could suggest some candidates.
Two weeks later, Mr. Hallman again called Mr. Jameson, who was president of the Carolina Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, to see if he had any names to toss into the mix.
"I said, 'I'd like to submit one name, and that's me,'" Mr. Jameson said.
The Aiken chamber announced Friday that Mr. Jameson, 54, will become its president and chief executive officer effective Feb. 27.
"You cannot imagine how good it feels to come home," he told about 50 people who gathered at the chamber office for the announcement.
Mr. Jameson, who grew up in Bamberg, has been a leader in the chamber of commerce and economic development fields for more than 30 years. He served as the director of the Economic Development Partnership of Aiken and Edgefield Counties from 1984 to 1990.
He was the president of the Fayetteville, N.C., Chamber of Commerce from 1991 to 2001. For the past six years, he has served as president of the Greensboro, N.C., Chamber of Commerce.
He increased the revenue of the Fayetteville chamber by 400 percent and increased its membership by 43 percent, said Paul Durban, the chairman of the Aiken chamber's board of directors. In Greensboro, he said, Mr. Jameson developed and implemented a plan to save the organization from financial disaster.
Mr. Durban said Aiken's new chamber leader would energize the business community.
"He has a strong record of success as a chamber executive, plus he knows Aiken from having lived here before," Mr. Durban said.
Mayor Fred Cavanaugh echoed those sentiments.
"He knows the community, and he's proven that he can work in chambers," he said. "He's the perfect choice."
"A community has to invest in itself if it expects others to invest in it. Aiken has done that as well as I've ever seen it," Mr. Jameson said.
He said he wants to use the brainpower of the chamber's members and help them be profitable.
"The key to that is to find that set of programs that our members expect us to have," he said.
Mr. Jameson said his priorities will be to understand the inner workings of the Aiken organization and to visit people in the community to pick up on trends.
"I cannot come in here with preconceived notions," he said. "I want to see Aiken through the eyes of the people that are here already."
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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