Business

Columbus native Colin Martin to lead Harris County Chamber

Colin Martin, a former Columbus Chamber of Commerce executive and one-time political opponent of Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, becomes president and CEO of the Harris County Chamber starting Monday.
Colin Martin, a former Columbus Chamber of Commerce executive and one-time political opponent of Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, becomes president and CEO of the Harris County Chamber starting Monday.

A former chamber of commerce executive in Columbus and one-time mayoral election opponent to Teresa Tomlinson will now become president and chief executive officer of the Harris County Chamber of Commerce.

Colin Martin will take the helm of the chamber north of his hometown of Columbus on Monday, the Harris County Chamber said Friday in a news release. He succeeds Jayson Johnston, who is headed for Washington County, just east of Macon, Ga., to become the economic development director there.

“I have missed the opportunity to make an impact on the broader community and region that serving at a chamber provides,” Martin said in a statement. “I am committed to regionalism and I look forward to keying my past experience with the current momentum of the Harris County Chamber to continue to build upon its successes.”

Martin currently is a governmental affairs consultant for Columbus Regional Health, which operates facilities here that include Midtown Medical Center and John B. Amos Cancer Center.

Previously a second lieutenant with the U.S. Army, the Pacelli High School and University of Georgia graduate joined the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce in 2010, becoming vice president of political affairs and at one point VP of government affairs, also working with the Valley Partnership Joint Development Authority.

He also has been a field representative for former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican whose territory included Georgia’s 3rd District, in which Harris County is located. Martin’s political ambitions included an unsuccessful run for Columbus mayor against incumbent Tomlinson in 2014. Prior to that, he lost a Columbus Council District 2 race against Glenn Davis, and was a vocal opponent against the 1999 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which voters passed.

The Harris County Chamber search committee interviewed Martin Friday morning at a called board meeting, it said, then approved his hiring for the president and CEO position. It did not say who the other candidates were.

“We had some very strong candidates for the position,” Kevin Wiley, Harris County Chamber board chairman, said in a statement. “Colin stood out to our search committee with his past experience, his connections in Harris County and beyond, his experience in the chamber field, and his vision for the Harris County Chamber of Commerce.”

Harris County, which shares a border with Muscogee County and Columbus, has a population of more than 33,000. Its county seat is Hamilton and it is part of the Columbus metropolitan statistical area. It is considered a northern residential suburb of Columbus. Its communities include Pine Mountain, West Point, Shiloh and Waverly Hall. Unincorporated areas include Cataula, Midland, Ellerslie and Fortson.

The county’s largest employer is Callaway Gardens, a tourism attraction in Pine Mountain, according to the chamber’s website, with Koch Industries also operating a chicken processing plant in Pine Mountain Valley.

Martin and his wife, Dr. Beth Martin, a family medicine physician in Columbus, have two daughters, one who attends Columbus High School and the other who is a aerospace engineering graduate from Georgia Tech. The family lives in the Green Island Hills neighborhood of Columbus.

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