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Ferguson named director of Economic and Community Development

Sherri Ferguson

Portland Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Sherri Ferguson has been named Portland’s new Director of Economic and Community Development.

Mayor Mike Callis made the announcement during the Ultimate Garth Brooks Tribute concert on Friday evening during the Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival. Current director Denise Geminden recently announced her retirement in June.

“The ECD office is vital within our city when it comes to recruiting and retaining businesses,” said Callis. “Portland was fortunate to have the same person in that role for many years, but as Denise prepared for retirement our search for a new director began. After conducting interviews, it became clear that Sherri would be a good choice as the next ECD director. Sherri is already highly respected in our region and her extensive experience with the local business community will lend itself well to a smoother transition. We look forward to her becoming part of the city of Portland in this new role.”

Ferguson recently made a public statement about her decision. In that statement, she said the decision had not been made lightly and that serving as CEO of the chamber had been an extraordinary journey, marked by challenges, victories and invaluable experiences.

“I am extremely proud of the collective achievements we have achieved and the progress we have made together,” said Ferguson. “I have confidence in the future of the Chamber. I have had the opportunity to lead an extraordinary team that has been able to move our vision forward. They will continue to work and move forward with new, innovative ideas.”

In recalling some of her memories, Ferguson listed the success of the eclipse event, the Farm to Table Dinner, which brought people together making it an annual event, and the excitement of the future move to the new building. She added that the best thing she did was hire her staff so they wouldn’t miss a step during the transition.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives (TCoCE) was named the 2021 Ferguson Executive of the Year. In other recognitions at TCoCE, the Portland Chamber received first place awards for events three times. These events include the Back to School Bash, the Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival and the Farm to Table Dinner.

According to Ferguson, they won first place every time they competed in an event. In addition, Kristen Hope was named Staff Member of the Year in 2023.

Ferguson will continue with the cases that Geminden has instituted. Her focus will be on current industries and retail establishments in Portland. She wants to develop a plan with strategies for the future. Her goal is to get this in order before considering hiring an outside agency for retail recruiting.

In her public statement, Ferguson said she was committed to offering her assistance in whatever capacity she can to ensure the Chamber continues to thrive during this period of change.

According to Ferguson, the chamber’s board of directors will lead the search for her replacement and provide updates as they become available.