You could call it a different type of "shop local" campaign by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber leaders said Friday they will, for the moment, forego a national search for a new chamber president and CEO, and instead will focus on interviewing a group of candidates who already live in the community.
"Trying to bring in someone from the outside to understand Lawrence has been a challenge," said Doug Gaumer, chair of the chamber's selection committee. "Lawrence is a fantastic community, but it has some uniqueness. We think somebody with some local DNA will understand that better."
Chamber Selection Committee
Doug Gaumer, Intrust Bank
Mike McGrew, McGrew Real Estate
Brad Finkeldei, Stevens & Brand
Gene Meyer, Lawrence Memorial Hospital
Shannon Abrhamson, First Management
LaVerne Epp, Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority
Allison Moore, Colliers International
Cindy Yulich, Emprise Bank
Mark Kern, The Kern Group
Jason Edmonds, Edmonds-Duncan
Susan Tate, Lawrence Arts Center
Craig Weinaug, Douglas County
David Corliss, City of Lawrence
Rick Doll, Lawrence Public Schools
Tim Caboni, Kansas University
Gaumer said he's already received three resumes from local residents, whom he declined to name, and said he thinks the group could grow to six or more.
"They aren't traditional chamber people, but they have good private sector experience that I think will translate over well to the chamber," Gaumer said.
Gaumer said he expects the chamber's 15-member selection committee to conduct interviews in mid-April and determine by May whether they want to offer the job to a local individual. If not, Gaumer said the chamber then would undertake a national search.
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.
"We would like to have long-term leadership," said Brad Finkeldei, chair-elect for the chamber's board of directors and a member of the selection committee. "For various reasons that hasn't occurred."
Gaumer said there also could be other advantages to a local leader.
"A person who already lives here will understand the politics and the political process," Gaumer said. "Instead of resisting it, let's work within that process. That has always been tough with the previous CEOs that come from outside the community."
Gaumer said he also hopes a Lawrence candidate would be more likely to have strong relationships with existing businesses. Gaumer said the chamber wants a leader who can immediately begin working with existing local businesses on growing the community.
"We haven't done as good of a job of meeting with existing businesses to identify what they need to grow and be successful," Gaumer said. "We're going to get much, much better at that."