James William Chesshir Jr. potential customers Tiny Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Small Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is on track for a document yr of financial improvement achievements even with a world-wide pandemic — many thanks in aspect to the foresight of its chief government officer, Jay Chesshir.

Chesshir, who took above as president and CEO of the Chamber in 2006, claims the accomplishment is due to the fact of tricky perform put in many yrs ago to provide organizations like Amazon and Costco to the space. And the do the job to entice much more business to the space carries on.

“Our pipeline has not stopped. It continues to be very, very strong, which leads me to say from an financial prognostic creation perspective, the long run of our overall economy — as long as we continue to deal with infrastructure and land and buildings that are necessary to be competitive — as extensive as we do our component, I think the long run is particularly vibrant for metro Tiny Rock,” he says.

And Chesshir — who proclaims he is a “Nashville Scrapper” — appears like an individual whose foreseeable future has often been shiny. But it failed to necessarily appear that way when he had aspirations of participating in college sports.

Chesshir was born in Arkadelphia, but his relatives moved to the southwest Arkansas town Nashville when he was in 1st quality. As a Scrapper, the Nashville High Faculty mascot, he excelled in most athletics but especially baseball.

He had desires of actively playing at the school stage. He just about did, but an damage stopped him ahead of he could strike the area.

The son of Jane and James William Chesshir Sr. was nicknamed Jay by his mother to differentiate him from his father and other folks with equivalent names on equally sides of the relatives. His father grew up in Nashville, and his mother was raised in McGehee.

The spouse and children moved to Nashville when the elder Chesshir was hired at Creation Credit Affiliation — now recognized as Farm Credit history. Nashville at that time was smaller to some individuals — about 4,000 people — and Chesshir and his sister, Debbie, and brother, Bryan, understood almost absolutely everyone.

“It was wonderful,” Chesshir states of escalating up in little-city United states. “I laughingly notify folks about driving a tractor when I was 9 many years previous and owning my initially real motor vehicle incident on Principal Avenue at 12. It was just a various time and location. It was an absolute joy to improve up in. It was like a large loved ones from the viewpoint of rising up in a smaller town. A lot of days, I sometimes want that life was that basic again.”

Whilst areas of daily life in a compact town had been basic, the classes he figured out as a younger teen ended up additional complex. His mother was the initially girl elected to the area college board, and she “ruffled some feathers with some folks who were not accomplishing suitable,” he suggests.

“Sad to say, I discovered at a pretty early age that from time to time politics is a tough location to be close to because the barn and the tractor and the auto and all the instruments had been burned,” Chesshir says.

The relatives lived in town but experienced a farm exterior the city limitations.

“Mother experienced led in generating some choices,” he suggests. “Of course practically nothing was at any time established. Extensive tale quick, they knew it was arson. They just never ever could pin it on a specific personal, but our barn and yet another faculty board member’s home that was beneath development have been each burned the identical night.”

The Chesshirs brought their youngsters up in the Church of Christ, and the household commenced attending a region church when Jay was 13. There he joined a group where by he realized how to sing the lead in church solutions.

“When you are in a modest region church at the exact same time that your voice was altering definitely was a funny factor,” he claims. “On any Sunday early morning, my voice would break in the middle of a tune.”

His mother was lifted a Methodist, and his father grew up in the Church of Christ.

“We ended up taught obligation and accountability from the very commencing. And however, we all make blunders. We all continue to make faults,” Chesshir says. “There were being always effects for terrible selections, but those people consequences had been normally in enjoy. And I was blessed with two incredible parents who arrived from different faith backgrounds.

“All through their journey from a faith perspective, it was always more about worshipping God as opposed to always the way that worship looked.”


In substantial college, Chesshir played “fairly a great deal something that was in season” with the exception of tennis simply because it occurred in the center of observe and baseball time. He excelled in football and baseball and was presented college or university scholarships in both.

The University of Arkansas was fascinated in his baseball skills but required him to expend a 12 months at a junior college. Chesshir signed up at Lubbock Christian Faculty in Texas with the intent to get a calendar year underneath his belt in advance of transferring to the Razorbacks workforce.

But prior to he produced it to Texas, Chesshir broke his big toe for the duration of a high college football sport. At Lubbock, he tore his rotator cuff and he “hung up the baseball cleats at that instant in time.”

He transferred to Fayetteville in the spring semester and graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of science in organization administration. He planned to go to regulation college but made a decision to take a year off and ultimately took a place at Merrill Lynch in Scorching Springs.

Not being aware of everyone in town, he joined the Jaycees Club, which assisted him develop his occupation. A handful of yrs afterwards, an at-massive placement on the Scorching Springs Metropolis Board of Directors arrived open up, and Chesshir determined to run for business. He was 27.

He ended up in a 3-man or woman nonpartisan race — competing versus two more mature adult males. With the aid of his campaign manager, Chesshir made a decision to continue to keep his age a secret and did not use his photo in any campaign materials. But on the day of the election, the Scorching Springs Sentinel-Record ran a tale that bundled images of all of the candidates. His marketing campaign supervisor instructed him, “We are sunk.”

“I was blessed to earn it and became, I guess it is nonetheless correct, the youngest person elected in heritage” of the Hot Springs Board of Directors.

But his time on the board was shorter-lived. The city went from a four-district, a few at-significant configuration to a 6-district, 1 at-huge member. Chesshir ran versus an incumbent and lost. But he thinks his four a long time on the board helped put together him for his long run in financial development.

“It gave me the option to genuinely end and hear to multiple sides of distinct concerns as opposed to just relying on my have encounter,” Chesshir claims. “It aided me become a far more mature final decision-maker, and I imagine a greater collaborator as opposed to just usually getting matters finished on my individual.”

The prospect also launched him to economic development. As a city director, he worked to bring Klipsch Speakers to an previous manufacturing setting up in Hot Springs. Right after landing the offer, Chesshir utilized for the management occupation at the Garland County Financial Enhancement Corp.

About five years later, he worked on the merger of the Scorching Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Financial Enhancement Corp. and utilized for the CEO situation, contemplating he was a shoo-in. Eric Jackson, who was part of the leadership workforce for the merger, considered if not — expressing a lookup was required.

“What he taught me was that even while you put in the function to get something achieved, it is continue to not completed right until you get via a changeover and into a additional precise direction in conditions of rising — regardless of whether it can be the business, the business or regardless of whether it’s any other final decision you have to make.

“You just are not able to make the decision and assume you are finished and walk absent. There’s even now more operate remaining.”

Following the search approach was accomplished, Chesshir was hired as president and CEO, a position he held for 11 many years.

“I really don’t consider we’ve had, up until that time, a improved CEO. He just knocked it out the park,” claims Jackson, senior vice president at Oaklawn Racing On line casino Vacation resort. “Jay has the incredible skill to convey individuals together for the prevalent fantastic in these types of an unassuming, gentle way that you don’t know it has took place until you look up.”


In 2005, he was employed to head the 11-county Very little Rock Metro Alliance. A minimal over a yr later on, he was named president and main government officer of the Minimal Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“The to start with factor I love about the career is no two days are alike. Each working day, I occur to do the job with this remarkable team that I’m blessed to do the job with. Something’s constantly diverse. Demands alter, prospects alter, problems adjust. And so it never will get uninteresting.

“What we do today will have an awesome, constructive influence on folks and their people as a result of the chance at a new work or a improved schooling, or regardless of what neighborhood issue that we are engaged in attempting to support make this local community a superior spot.

“We affect people’s lives every working day who will under no circumstances know who we are. And I always liken it to feeding the soul. You know when you have the chance, even in the midst of all the challenges and the disagreements and the adjustments and covid and all the things that is taking spot close to you. Becoming in a position to lay your head on that pillow at evening and staying grateful for the prospect to do this work, but also getting thankful for what this operate is carrying out for other people — it just definitely feeds the soul.”

Ronnie Dedman, president of AT&T Arkansas and chairman of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, claims Chesshir warrants “glowing accolades.” Dedman grew to become chairman of the corporation at the start out of the calendar year.

“When I took around in January, I had options and views about the route that we would go, and then the pandemic hit,” Dedman claims. “Just for a quick minute, we kind of scratched our heads and explained, ‘What’s up coming?’

“But from an economic growth standpoint, Jay and his group experienced laid the foundation for a good deal of what is taking place correct now,” Dedman suggests. “One point that I have discovered about financial growth this year is that it just would not materialize right away. You’ve got received to make relationships with businesses and website selectors around time, and that is specifically what he is been ready to do. Tiny Rock and Central Arkansas are reaping the advantages of the tricky work he and his group have done about the several years.”

When asked about achievements above his 14-12 months tenure, Chesshir details not to headline grabbers like Amazon or Dassault Falcon Jet, but to the creation of the Donaghey University of Engineering and Facts Technologies office at the College of Arkansas at Small Rock.

The section allows catch the attention of marketplace, he claims.

“The actuality is, in today’s planet and likely back even 15 several years ago, if you ended up in a market place that didn’t have an engineering school in a 50-mile radius, you simply just were being taken out of the course of action,” Chesshir says.

Obtaining Enjoy AT A Marriage

Chesshir remembers first meeting his potential bride, Lara, at a wedding day in 1992. He was a groomsman and she was a bridesmaid. “We have been standing there at the rehearsal in the church, and she comes going for walks down the aisle. I seem at my friend who was acquiring married and explained, ‘Who is that?’ The relaxation is heritage.”

He experienced basically been launched to Lara sometime earlier but did not bear in mind it. The two dated for 4 decades in advance of marrying in 1996. They have three children — Claire Foster, a 3rd-year clinical resident at Arkansas Kid’s Clinic, and James William III and Sam, who are both of those college students at UA. His grandson Ben Foster is 3 years outdated.

Now an empty-nester, Chesshir devotes most of his spare time to teaching and competing with his Labrador retrievers. A quail hunter with his father though growing up, Chesshir did not go on his very first duck hunt right up until he was an grownup. Just after his next duck hunt, he became captivated with the strategy of schooling Labs. He study books and viewed videos to discover how.

At some point, he figured out about hunt tests for Labs, a competitors where retrievers are judged against a particular regular.

“Our pipeline has not stopped. It continues to be very, very robust, which leads me to say from an economic prognostic generation perspective, the foreseeable future of our overall economy — as extended as we continue on to deal with infrastructure and land and structures that are needed to be competitive — as prolonged as we do our component, I feel the long run is particularly bright for metro Small Rock.” (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Cary Jenkins)

“The 1st hunt exam I ever went to I ran with a pretty younger pet that I had at the time,” he claims. “And I just got bitten by the bug. I took to it hook, line and sinker. I pretty much stop taking part in golfing and began training pet dogs in the early morning and in the late afternoons just after operate.”

He and his puppies have gained lots of accolades together with a single pup who was a two-time Labrador retriever national winner finalist. His present-day troupe of Labs are named for music: You Know You Make Me Want to Shout — call identify Otis (Redding) Eleanor Rigby and Enable the River Run, get in touch with name Carly (Simon).

“If you need humility, this is a video game that will give that to you each solitary weekend,” Chesshir says of competing with his puppies. “It is so competitive and it is so tricky to be effective. I just adore the coaching part.”


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