Consultant hired to assist with Chamber strategy

Published 2:37 pm Monday, January 29, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Chamber of Commerce has hired a consultant to help with retail strategy and planning the search for a new director.

Jim Byard of Byard Associates LLC, former mayor of Prattville and former Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs director, has signed a one-year contract with the Chamber to provide strategic advising.

This will include a review of Chamber policies and procedures for recommended changes to stay current and asking community leaders their impressions of the Chamber.

Byard Associates is a consulting firm focusing on development and local government strategy.

Chamber executive director Janice Hull announced during the Chamber’s banquet on Jan. 26 that she would be leaving the position. She will officially leave the position on Feb. 16.

“Chilton County is in a very unique spot — really a crossroads — because you have an opportunity for almost a blank slate,” Byard said.

He said since Chilton County is without a Chamber director and an economic developer there is an opportunity to hire professionals in the field to work together.

“While those two are separate and distinct roles and serve separate missions, they do cross in several areas. So, I think Chilton County is really at an opportunity to hire professionals in both those realms … Those will set the tone for economic development, business development and really community development,” Byard said.

A new economic developer is being discussed and pursued by the Chilton County Industrial Development Board.

Byard has begun discussions with Chamber members and community leaders, as a part of his role. He said he was excited for the opportunity.

“Chilton County has a vibrancy, and it’s in a great spot for growth,” Byard said.

Byard said he will also be asking community members what they want to see in a new Chamber director. From these discussions, Byard will develop recommendations to the board for job qualifications for the position.

He will help the Chamber board of directors develop a timeline and process for selecting a new director. Byard will also assist with hiring a new director.

When Hull first stepped in to help out in the leadership role, it was meant to be a temporary arrangement. That was nearly three years ago.

“This has been a labor of love because I have been involved with the Chamber for probably 30 years, so stepping into it (the executive director position) to help them through a hard time was not really something that was difficult for me,” Hull said.

Hull said Byard has experience and expertise that would be valuable to the Chamber during this time of transition and help the Chamber find someone who can continue to build on what the Chamber had accomplished.

“I was really pleased that he agreed to it,” Hull said.

Hull said she enjoyed her time in the Chamber leadership role, but felt the Chamber could benefit from having a Chamber profession to fill the position.