The transition board guiding the unification of three chambers of commerce in Williamson County announced today three significant initiatives – the selection of a name for the new chamber, the hiring of a transition consultant and the scheduling of a joint meeting of the current chambers to answer member questions about the unification process.

The new name of the combined chamber, which is expected to launch at the end of 2012, is the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce. It will bring together the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce, the Brentwood Cool Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Cool Springs Chamber of Commerce. The slogan for the new chamber is “One Williamson, One Chamber.”

The three chambers have scheduled a joint meeting on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 11:30 a.m. at the Franklin Marriott in Cool Springs, which will include a panel discussion on chamber unification. There will also be an opportunity for members to ask questions. Registration is available through any of the three chambers or their websites and non-members are welcome.

The consultant who has been hired, Charles Van Rysselberge, has served as president and CEO of the Charleston, South Carolina Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. He has dual citizenship (American and Belgian) and is a South Carolina Consular Corps member, serving as the foreign trade advisor for the country of Belgium.

Van Rysselberge will help the transition board as it works through a variety of issues, including the hiring of a CEO, the dues structure, office location, fundraising and programming plans.

Having spent several days in the county recently working on the project, Van Rysselberge commented, “The leadership of Williamson County should be applauded for investing their volunteer time to create a unified Chamber for their county. This is something that has been discussed for a long time, and now the Boards of these local Chambers have decided to take action to make ‘One Williamson-One Chamber’ a reality. I am very excited to have been selected to be a consulting advisor through this process, and will draw upon my 40 years of Chamber of Commerce experience to assist them.”

Van Rysselberge is a graduate of the University of Georgia, with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in journalism/mass communication. His master’s thesis was on chamber communication programs in metropolitan U.S. cities. He also served in the U.S. Army as a Signal Corps officer. Van Rysselberge and his family live on Daniel Island, SC.

Transition Board Chairman Brad Dunn stated how much he appreciates the support and active participation of the three Chamber Presidents- Nancy Conway, Cindi Parmenter, and Shelly Robertson. “In this effort to unite into one mutual organization, it takes the strong and dedicated leadership of professional staff, board members, and the combined network of volunteer leadership throughout the community. In this case, representatives from all three groups have shown an incredible spirit of cooperation and support,” Dunn said.

About the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce

On July 27, 2011, the boards of directors for the three largest chambers of commerce in Williamson County, announced they had accepted the recommendations of a unification task force to work together to form a new countywide chamber of commerce.

This decision came after the unanimous recommendation of the joint task force, which had been studying the issue since December 2010. The new Williamson County Chamber of Commerce will provide the business community in Middle Tennessee and beyond a single path to engage, promote and connect with Williamson County.

Transition Board members are: Kenny Blackburn, Nancy Conway, David Flow, Cathy Holland, Rick Kloete, Matt Largen, Kristen McBryde, Cindi Parmenter, Jill Rosenberry, Mark Shore, Shelly Robertson, Angela Votta, Joe Budd, treasurer; Linda Hirsch, secretary; Chris Czarka, vice chairman; and Brad Dunn, chairman.

Williamson Herald: Jan. 31, 2012