Harvel’s transition

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 32 views 

The news this week of the December 2013 retirement of Paul Harvel as the CEO of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce reflected this outgoing executive’s niche for planning.

No surprise to anyone that Harvel will be followed by Tim Allen, the president and chief operating officer of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

See how a well executed plan comes together.

There will be no “gap” some communities face in retiring one chamber executive and finding another to step in that role. There will be no shuffling of priorities as a show of a new executive in place. There will be no “getting on the same page” as the long range economic development plan rolls on.

There will be no “adjustment period” where the chamber officers, board members, elected officials and other civic leaders and community at large gets to know the new chamber leader.

Do not mistake our intentions here.

Having a COO ready to step up to take over the role of the CEO in an organization as vitally important as the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce is a necessity for the future of Fort Smith and the region’s good economic health.

We will, like most of the community, reflect back during the next six months on all the things that Harvel’s fingerprints are on in our community. He has been good for the Fort Smith chamber in the best of economic times and in the worst of economic times for our region.

Since May 2009, Harvel has filled a necessary role in leading the chamber in such successes as the formation of the Fort Smith Regional CEO Council, two major economic fundraising campaigns and several key business expansions.

Aside from the work of the chamber, Harvel, perhaps from day one, believed in the area.

“I have always believed that Fort Smith was and is in a wonderful position to do great things and I truly believe great things are on the horizon for this region,” he said announcing his retirement.

Perhaps one of the “keys” to Harvel’s tenure here was the formation of the Fort Smith Regional CEO Council.

Gathering up commitments of time and resources from busy CEO’s in the area into a single, cohesive unit to promote and assess the economic and business future of the Fort Smith region is impressive. We may never correctly assess the positive image this provides to those outside the business community.

While this group has formulated plans for the future, it’s impact will possibly be felt more in the next decade than the last few, formative years. It was and is a vision toward getting everyone on the same page for the future that may be Harvel’s lasting tribute to the chamber.

Harvel wasted little time after getting to Fort Smith to form a regional partnership in Little Rock. With this knowledge and experience, Harvel brought the regional vision to the Fort Smith Chamber and the regional communities in 2009.

His short stay here is only the capstone to a 40 year career of leading Chambers of Commerce in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

We wish Paul Harvel well in his “Goodbye Tour” some six months ahead.

To his successor in waiting, Tim Allen, who came on board in November 2011, we expect to see more of his expertise with marketing and economic development as he leads the Fort Smith chamber in January 2014.

One of the first orders of business for both men, will be recruiting and finding the next second-in-command of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

A strong leader of any type of command is only as strong as his officer in charge, the leader standing nearby in the shadows ready to take the command.

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