Long-time Chamber executive announces retirement

Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber President/CEO Halford to lead through December 2019

COOKEVILLE – George Halford, president/CEO of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, announced today his intent to retire at the conclusion of 2019. Following a 47-year chamber career, with 16 of those years serving the Cookeville-Putnam County community, and many elevated successes, Halford feels the timing is right for this opportunity, both for him personally and for the organization. 

Many positive outcomes have taken place under Halford’s leadership, including the launch of the Highlands Economic Partnership in 2006 with focuses on regional economic development and workforce development & education. Expansion of local industry and recruitment of new industry has provided thousands of job opportunities for the region’s citizens. Workforce development & education has been a top-tier program recognized across the country for its strides in ensuring education programs are aligned with the needs of employers. Visitor development became a revitalized focus with implementation of a brand strategy and a more defined mission to inspire travel to Putnam County. Chamber membership has continued to grow, recently celebrating one thousand members and a successful transition to a tiered benefits structure. 

Through the chamber’s recent accreditation process, which received a four-star level in 2017, Halford notes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce provided feedback on the creation of a long-term strategic plan to increase the strength of the organization and assist in gaining a five-star accreditation level in the future. The strategic planning process began in 2018 to set goals and expectations for the organization to better serve the community within the next three to five years. 

Halford believes an official succession plan is integral in the success of implementing the strategic planning as his contract carries through December 2019. 

“With a vested interest and passion for this organization and community, staying through an effective and healthy succession plan is important to me,” said Halford. “We have a highly talented staff dedicated to their roles and success of their program areas, and will greatly assist with this process.”

The Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, under the leadership of current Chairman Bill Curran, is committed to supporting Halford. The executive committee will begin implementation of the succession planning process that was part of the overall strategic plan.

“The board, with deep gratitude for his years of service to the chamber and this community, has accepted George’s plan to retire at the end of his contract,” said Curran. “He has led the organization to new heights and created positive change which will bring lasting effects. We’re appreciative of George’s commitment and insights in being a part of and fulfilling this process.”

 “I’ve been so fortunate to serve in great communities across the state of Tennessee, but this one is, by far, the most special,” added Halford. “Cookeville embraced us 16 years ago and, without a doubt, is home to us. After December, my wife Gloria and I will continue to support the work of the chamber and look forward to continuing to serve the community in new ways.”

About the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce: The Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce aims to develop and maintain an economic climate that creates and retains jobs and enhances the quality of life for all citizens of Cookeville-Putnam County. Learn more at CookevilleChamber.com.

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