Debbie Griffin resigns as COO of Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 983 views 

Debbie Griffin has resigned her position as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber President and CEO Graham Cobb said Griffin’s departure is effective Jan. 31. Griffin joined the chamber in 2015 at vice president of marketing and communications and was promoted to her current job in December 2017, just a few months after Cobb was hired as the organization’s top executive.

“We’ve had tremendous success in 2018 [following] a time of transition, from a former president and CEO to an interim director and now the current director,” Cobb said. “Debbie has been the rock and the rudder that kept everything moving forward. I think she just decided it was time to move along.”

Griffin could not be immediately reached for comment. The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal honored Griffin this past October as one of 10 C-Suite Award winners.

Cobb said he is already advertising the job through local and statewide chamber channels, but added he’s not necessarily looking to hire a “chamber” person. The job title is vice president of operations.

“What I have found in my position in Little Rock as well as my experience here is that a lot of times, the position and job description are defined by the person that has the role,” Cobb said. “We will hire for certain technical skills. Certainly being able to run this office financially and run this team effectively is important.”

Debbie Griffin

Griffin was intimately involved with the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, an annual event organized by the chamber that marked its fifth year this past October. It has grown exponentially each year, Cobb said, and now includes two pre-summit events: Women in Technology Summit and the MedTech Healthcare Summit. Attendance has increased from 400 in 2014 to more than 2,100 in 2018.

Cobb said whoever is hired as Griffin’s successor will likely continue with the summit responsibility.

“We look to go bigger [with the summit] and layer on events and programs and locations and experiences that will make this a national talent magnet event,” he said. “We will do that by partnering with regional organizations, as well as potentially some national organizations and continue to work with an active an experienced committee that Debbie has run the past few years.”

The Bentonville chamber has 8 full-time employees and 2 contract employees, and a little more than 1,000 members. The nonprofit organization is making preparations to relocate in a couple of months from its office in the Tucker’s Corner building on the downtown square to a building at 702 S.E. Fifth St., an address north of the 8th Street Market in an area designated by the city as the market district.

The Tucker’s Corner property has been targeted for development by a group that involves Tom Walton. The group is planning to develop the 0.60-acre site at the southeast corner of the downtown square in Bentonville into a full-service hotel.

Development plans have not yet been filed with the city.

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