Chamber Selects Vice President, Economic Development
Fitzhugh S. Owens to Join Chamber Staff
Jessica M.L. Thompson, Marketing & Communications Director
BOWLING GREEN, KY-The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce has selected Fitzhugh "Hugh" S. Owens as the organization's new vice president, economic development. In this role, Owens will play a significant role in the design, implementation and integration of the Chamber's economic development efforts.
Owens will relocate from Murrells Inlet, SC, where he was a commercial real estate sales associate for Coldwell Banker Commercial - Chicora Real Estate and specialized in industrial and office sales and leasing. Prior to that role, he was president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (MBREDC) in Conway, SC.
"Hugh's career experience and accomplishments speak to his leadership, knowledge and professionalism," said Chamber President & CEO Ron Bunch, CEcD. "I am confident that he will excel in his new role and that he will play an integral role in the Chamber's economic development work."
With more than 26 years of economic development experience, Owens offers many qualities that are valuable to the Chamber, including a strong focus in international projects. As MBREDC president and CEO from October 2005 to December 2009, he was responsible for business recruitment, expansion and retention of local industries and for long-range strategic planning and strategic development for the organization. Before joining the MBREDC, Owens was president of Warrior Mountain Consulting LLC, a South Carolina economic development consulting firm.
Owens' career at the South Carolina Department of Commerce lasted 20 years. He was the director of international business for the South Carolina Department of Commerce in Columbia for six years. His leadership resulted in 85 new and expanding industry announcements totaling $4.3 billion in capital investment and creating more than 18,000 jobs. His work primarily focused on new foreign investment, and he was involved in the BMW and Hoffman LaRoche recruitment projects, which are two of the largest recruitment successes in South Carolina.
While with the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Owens relocated the European Office of the State of South Carolina to Frankfurt, Germany, and served as the office's director for six years. He was also the chairman of the Council of American States in Europe. Additionally, he worked as trade manager, international division and developed and implemented the South Carolina's trade promotion program, targeting small- and medium-sized businesses with potential to export.
Prior to his Department of Commerce career, Owens was a legislative assistant for U.S. Congressman John L. Napier, advising on commerce, foreign relations, and transportation issues. He was also the director, European sales for Powell Manufacturing Corporation.
Owens will work alongside Bunch and the Chamber staff to build and maintain business and consultant relationships. He will also work with outreach campaigns and marketing efforts on a local, regional and national level.
In addition to his extensive economic development experience, Owens has a Master's of International Business Studies Degree the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where he also obtained a Bachelor's of Arts degree in history. He completed French and German language training in Belgium and Germany. Additionally, he is a member of the International Economic Development Council, the South Carolina Economic Developers' Association, and the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors.
"Hugh's resume and professional leadership will be a great addition to the Chamber team and to all of South Central Kentucky," said Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Rodney Rogers. "His work with public-private partnerships and his international experience are impressive, and we look forward to welcoming him to our organization."
About the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce:
Incorporated in 1935, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was named the 2009 Chamber of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. As the fourth largest chamber in Kentucky, the Chamber serves as a premier business advocate for its more than 1,300 partners and is the driving force for economic development in South Central Kentucky. Its primary goals are to promote growth and success in the business community, reaching its small business partners and those in large industries alike. With leadership programs, governmental relations projects, educational initiatives and involvement opportunities, the Chamber aims to support the community and its neighbors in order to enhance the business climate and continue to grow the region.