FAYETTEVILLE -- The former regional business manager with the state Economic Development Commission has been named the chief economic development officer for the Chamber of Commerce.
Zane Chenault, 56, will replace Chung Tan, who served with the chamber for a decade. Tan was hired last month as business development manager for the city. Chenault will have his first day Monday.
Chenault was the Northwest Arkansas business manager for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, an agency promoting job growth statewide. There, he interviewed more than 300 regional businesses and had more than 370 business and retention visits, according to a chamber news release. He found 60 opportunities to increase employment at local businesses, leading to more than 400 new jobs, according to the release.
Chenault said he will build on the interactions he's had with businesses under his previous role and focus on job growth to increase the city's average household income.
"When you have an increase in average household income, that will drive other economic growth," he said. "You'll get to add the retail-type stores you want, the entertainment-type venues you want."
Chenault said he has a positive relationship with key figures at the city, including Mayor Lioneld Jordan and City Council members. He said he anticipates working closely with Tan, who will focus on retail in her role with the city. Chenault also said he'll pursue a variety of business types and work with other regional chambers to promote economic growth.
Chenault said he and his wife met in Fayetteville 30 years ago. After earning his bachelor's degree in computer science at Arkansas State University and serving in the Army during the Desert Storm years, the Chenaults traveled across the globe. Chenault had a 20-year career in information technology and served as vice president of service delivery at CompuCom, where he oversaw about 2,000 employees. The couple moved back to Fayetteville in 2015.
"Being able to work for the chamber to help move Fayetteville forward in terms of economic growth and economic stability -- anything we can do to help raise the median income, because those are the kind of jobs I want to pursue -- literally I cannot express how passionate I am about this new position," he said.
Steve Clark, chamber president, said Chenault's background in technology, service as a veteran and experience with the state Economic Development commission put him ahead of the pack. The chamber received 32 applications and narrowed them to eight candidates, he said.
Other applicants had economic development experience but not the local flair that Chenault brought, Clark said.
"Zane's time in that area has been in our area, literally," he said. "That makes a big difference."
Chenault ran for Washington County treasurer last year against incumbent Bobby Hill, who went on to win re-election. He has lived in Northwest Arkansas since 2015.
NW News on 08/14/2019
Print Headline: Chamber names new economic development officer