The Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce said Thursday it has found its next leader in Brian Anderson, current president and chief executive officer of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce in northwest Georgia.
Anderson, who has headed the Dalton chamber since October 2008, is expected to start in Columbus no later than June 1, the Columbus chamber said. He succeeds Mike Gaymon, who retired last fall after more than 25 years at the helm of the local organization.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to have served the Greater Dalton Chamber and community,” Anderson said in a statement. “However, Heather and I are excited about our new adventure in Columbus. I saw this as an opportunity to lead a larger chamber organization that, like the Greater Dalton Chamber, has achieved five-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber.”
The Columbus chamber used the search firm Waverly Partners to help it seek a new top executive. Troy Woods, who led the chamber’s search committee, said the organization is “very excited” to have Anderson stepping in to the critical position.
“Columbus is very fortunate to have recruited someone with Brian’s vast and varied chamber, business, political and military background and we are confident he will lead this chamber forward,” said Woods, who is this year’s chamber chair and whose full-time job is president and CEO of Columbus-based credit-card and payment processing firm TSYS.
Anderson, who has an economics degree from Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C., also served in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer, the chamber said. His background includes serving as chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners from 2005 to 2008. Before that, he spent eight years as a sales and marketing manager with Dalton Beverage Co.
The chamber executive is coming from a metro area that includes Whitfield County and has a population of nearly 143,000 people. It is located just under 40 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Tenn., and nearly 90 miles from downtown Atlanta.
The Dalton area has been heralded in the past as the “Carpet Capital of the World” because of its heavy carpet and rug manufacturing industry, although that sector was hit hard by the Great Recession. A community profile on the chamber website says top employers there include Shaw Industries Group, Mohawk Industries, Beaulieu Group, Hamilton Health Care System, Whitfield County Schools, Tandus, Dalton Public Schools and J&J Flooring.
Anderson will be arriving in a Columbus metro area with a population of about 310,000 and an employment base anchored by Fort Benning and its U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, card processor TSYS, insurance firm Aflac and regional bank Synovus Financial Corp. Other top employers, aside from the city government and the school system, include Columbus Regional Health, St. Francis Hospital, BlueCross and BlueShield of Georgia, NCR Corp. and Snyder’s-Lance. The Kia Motors auto assembly plant and its assortment of parts suppliers are centered around West Point, Ga., just north of Columbus.
The latest Georgia Department of Labor data show the Columbus metro area with a total job count of 123,800 and an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. That compares to 68,400 total jobs and a 7.1 percent jobless rate for the Dalton metro area.
The Columbus chamber has about 1,200 members, a 20-person staff, three dozen board members and a solid base of volunteers. It raised a record $843,000 in its most recent capital campaign and is working to increase membership.
In 2014, Anderson was appointed by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to the State Workforce Investment Board, and he has been on the North Georgia Regional Commission Board since 2009. He has completed the Georgia Tech Basic Economic Development course and the Georgia Academy for Economic Development course. He also has an Institute of Organizational Management designation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Georgia Economic Developer’s Association and the Southern Economic Development Council.
Anderson and his wife, Heather, have two grown children — Douglas, recently married and residing in Waukesha, Wisc., and Sarah Whitney, a junior at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.