The Southwest Indiana Chamber Board of Directors today announced the hiring of Tara Barney as president & CEO. The appointment was made after an extensive nationwide search led by an executive search firm and a local search committee comprised of regional business and community leaders.
Barney served as the CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce from 2010 through mid-2017; the Quad Cities metropolitan area consists of a six-county, bi-state region comprised of Clinton, Muscatine, and Scott counties in Iowa; and Henry, Mercer, and Rock Island counties in Illinois. Throughout her tenure, she was responsible for a chamber with a $6 million budget that worked effectively with more than 30,000 local businesses, including several Fortune 500 companies, that encompassed a regional labor force of nearly 600,000 people.
One of her most notable accomplishments during her time in the Quad Cities was the successful launch of a regional, bi-state business organization where she led the merger of the region’s Chambers and Regional Economic Development organization into a unified Chamber/Economic Development organization, one of the nation’s first. She was also instrumental in spearheading the formation of Q2030, a long-term vision and regional action plan focused on attracting and retaining businesses and talent as well as ensuring prosperity and connectivity among the region’s businesses and residents. The Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub likewise was formed under her leadership, which is a resource center that offers operational assessments, project management solutions and access to regional and national research to drive improvements in manufacturing processes.
“I am excited to move to Evansville and begin this next phase of my career in serving such a well-established Chamber and a vibrant community that is southwest Indiana,” said Barney. “The Southwest Indiana Chamber is clearly an extremely well-run organization, having recently won Chamber of the Year nationally in 2016, and I’m proud to join the talented and capable staff. I look forward to getting to know all of our members to best serve their business needs and continue to build upon the prosperity and vision of this local economy.”
Prior to her role at the Quad Cities Chamber, Barney served as the president and CEO of the Iowa Quad Cities Chamber (formerly known as DavenportOne), which ultimately became the Quad Cities Chamber upon the merger of several organizations mentioned above. Through Quad Cities Chamber predecessor organizations, she has nearly 20 years of extensive chamber experience and in working on economic and community development initiatives.
Search Committee Chair and Director of Federal Government Affairs for Vectren Corporation, Christine Keck, said, “While we had a tremendous slate of candidates, Tara’s extensive experience in economic development, working collaboratively among a number of civic and business-related organizations, and her understanding of a variety of industries makes her a perfect fit for the job. She will be a tremendous asset to our organization and our southwest Indiana communities.”
“Many thanks to Christine and the search committee for their efforts and diligence in what was an exhaustive and thoughtful process,” comments Jim Sandgren, chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and president and COO of Old National Bank. “Tara has demonstrated that she and her team can both retain existing Chamber members and cultivate new relationships to consistently deliver value to the community. The board of directors looks forward to a prosperous future for the Chamber and its affiliate organizations under her leadership.”
Barney, who will assume her new role on March 19, 2018, is a native of Columbus Ohio. She has a master’s of public administration from the Ohio State University and a bachelor’s in public administration from Miami University in Ohio. Her volunteer service has involved board membership for the YMCA, United Way, the Figge Art Museum, and arts and culture related nonprofit agencies. She has two adult children, who reside in Colorado and Florida.