In September 1998 Bill joined the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce as President and CEO. In 1998, the Savannah Chamber (a 501©6), had 1,500 members and had the following affiliates: the Savannah Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (now Visit Savannah), Leadership Savannah, The Savannah Area Manufacturers, Savannah Sports Council, Small Business Council, Tybee Tourism Council, the Southside Council, Government Affairs Council, CEO Council, Military Affairs Council, Drug Free Workplace, Relocation Marketing, Workforce Council.
Since 1998, Chamber membership has grown to 2,200+ member firms with over 5,500 registered individuals and a collective budget of over $13 million. Financial stability has been restored with more than $7M in reserves. Additionally, the Chamber Foundation, a 501©3, owns two Chamber buildings valued at $7.4M, debt free. Since 2001, The Chamber has made political strides through the creation of a Political Action Committee winning 85% of the local political races it engaged in. The Chamber runs Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST & ESPOLST) campaigns for the community and has enjoyed no defeats, with wins in 2003 of 85%, 2006 of 60%, 55% (Education SPLOST), 2013 SPLOST at 58% and in 2012, 65% ESPLOST-winning every ballot-box. In 2006 The Chamber succeeded in having the local Board of Education elections changed to non-partisan and the Chamber PAC won all 5 school board races, including that of President. The CVB, now Visit Savannah, has grown to a $13M, nationally-recognized destination marketing leader greatly contributing to Savannah 14.5+M visitors per year.
Bill began his Chamber career as Marketing Manager for the Greater Detroit Michigan Chamber of Commerce in 1982. Bill was responsible for developing marketing plans for the Chamber’s economic development efforts covering the five counties and 6,000-mile+ metro Detroit region. During his 5 years in Detroit, Bill increasingly gained responsibility, including the departments of Small Business, International, Research, Prospect Development and Service. During this time, globalization of the auto industry occurred and the Detroit Chamber team (with many State and community leaders) attracted a Mazda auto plant and numerous auto parts suppliers from Japan.
Bill joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 1988 as Senior Vice President for Economic Expansion where his duties included economic development marketing and prospect servicing, international trade and marketing, research, Public Information, oversight of the Georgia Minority Development Council (GMSDC), and the South Fulton County Chamber of Commerce. During this time Bill oversaw the FORWARD ATLANTA economic development marketing budget, which grew from a $3.5 million (3 year) to $20 million (5 year) program, the largest Chamber ED marketing program in the country at that time. During this period, the Metro Atlanta Chamber team was involved with Atlanta’s, bid and hosting of the 1996 Olympics.
Through the development of a Brand Marketing strategy, Atlanta became the most recognized community in the United States for corporate relocations and expansions, as confirmed by two Lou Harris international polls of CEO’s worldwide. During the 1989 -1999 decade, 9,000+ prospects were generated, and 2,000 firms located, generating a total of 600,000 new jobs with investment averaging $650M /yr.
Bill attended the University of Utah, the University of Michigan and completed an undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Central Florida in 1981. In 1983, Bill received master’s degrees from UCF in Marketing and Finance.
Bill is married to the former Lynda Horan of Vicksburg, MS and is a Michigan native. He has 2 sons, Bill Jr. (age 33) and Nicholas (age 31). Bill Jr. is married with two children and works for Amazon in their Europe HQ in Luxemburg. Nick and his wife are physicians and completing their residency’s at Yale.
Bill’s family enjoys tennis, travel, snow skiing and sailing.