The search to find a local business executive to lead the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce is heating up.
The chair of the chamber's search committee said the group has received nine applications and now is putting out a call for any other candidates to have their applications in by April 25.
"All of them are really solid candidates," said Doug Gaumer, a Lawrence banker who is leading the search committee. "We just feel like we need to make sure people understand that it is not a closed process and we are taking unsolicited applications."
Gaumer said the committee would begin reviewing applications in the first week of May, with the hope of narrowing the field to a handful of finalists. If committee members don't think there are qualified applicants in that group, then they will begin the process of hiring a firm to conduct a nationwide search for a new president and CEO.
But Gaumer said he was optimistic that the search committee would find several of the candidates appealing.
"I think we'll have a hard time narrowing the field down," Gaumer said. "These candidates are really good."
Previously, chamber leaders announced they were going to search hard for local candidates to fill the position because people who live in the community may be more likely to provide long-term leadership and have a better understanding of how the community works.
The chamber is searching for a new CEO and president after Greg Williams resigned earlier this month after about two years on the job. Williams cited a desire to move back to Springfield, Mo., where his wife and children had remained.
Williams' successor will be the fifth CEO for the Lawrence chamber since longtime leader Gary Toebben left the job in 1999.
Gaumer said a major part of the new job would be leading the economic development efforts of Lawrence and Douglas County, but the search committee is willing to consider candidates who haven't worked directly in the economic development field.
"If you have the skill set it takes to build a business and grow a business, we are confident you can develop the skill set for economic development," Gaumer said.
The chamber also released on Friday a more specific set of job requirements. They include:
• Overseeing efforts to expand the chamber's membership base;
• Maintaining a fiscally sound budget;
• Advocating on behalf of members to improve the local business environment;
• Actively participating and engaging with the community.
Interested individuals can submit their applications to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce at 646 Vermont St., Suite 200.