MANHATTAN, Kan. (January 21, 2019 – Press Release) – Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce Jason Smith as our new president and chief executive officer. Smith joins the Manhattan Area Chamber after an extensive national search conducted through executive consultant firm Waverly Partners and the chamber’s own 13‐person search committee. Smith is expected to start in the position in March.
Smith most recently had worked since August 2015 at Norman (Okla.) Economic Development Coalition. NEDC is a joint effort of Oklahoma University, City of Norman, Moore Norman Technology Center and Norman Chamber of Commerce.
Smith was president/CEO for NEDC. His extensive economic development and Chamber experience extends to Abilene, Texas, Lincoln, Neb., and McAlester, Okla. He spent nearly 10 years with the Lincoln Chamber as VP Economic Development and cooperated jointly with a 14‐member oversight committee to Lincoln Partnership for ED as well as President of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce where he oversaw economic development, tourism and military affairs.
Smith has led award winning programs including in 2012 when Business Facilities named Lincoln the top economic development program in the country and ACCE, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, named Lincoln as a national finalist for Chamber of the Year. He has served in a variety of leadership roles including President of the Nebraska Economic Developers Council and on the board of the Oklahoma Economic Development Council.
“I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to be a part of Manhattan,” Smith said. “Both the community and the Chamber have stellar reputations among professionals in the Midwest. I want to thank the board and Chamber leadership for trusting me to follow in the footsteps of a great executive to lead the organization.”
“We are very excited to have someone of Jason’s caliber to lead the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. His economic development experience and work with institutions of higher learning and the military will be a good fit for our community,” Wayne Sloan, BHS Construction and Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Board Chair.
Smith replaces longtime President/CEO Lyle Butler, who announced his retirement last May which had marked an 18‐year run of significant successes with the Chamber. Butler came to Manhattan in 2000 and made in immediate impact with economic development fundraising. Four such campaigns have netted $11 million for the retention and attraction of business development to Manhattan.
Additional project victories and Manhattan economic advances would be attraction for National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF), Knowledge Based Economic Development program (KBED), Kansas Highway 18 project and Manhattan Regional Airport expansion.