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Chamber prospered under Haas

When Bill Haas became top executive of the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County in 1980, it was operating at a loss and the Rogue Valley's economy was starting a pronounced slump.

Two decades later, the chamber has been experiencing operating surpluses and the region's economy has diversified and grown, something Haas says the chamber played a major role in.

In his tenure, Chamber membership has doubled to 1,100 and its annual budget has increased to $700,000.

So with the books in order and the economy booming, Haas formally announced plans Monday to retire as chamber chief executive and vice president on Dec. 31.

After nearly 20 years, the time has come, Haas said. I have accomplished what I think was the mission when I came here.

Haas, who turned 55 on Sunday, says he plans to travel with his wife of 35 years, Cheryl. He also plans to form a consulting business called Project Management Services. The couple will continue to live in Medford.

The move has been in the works for nearly two years and the chamber's board began formal preparations for it this spring.

A 10-person search committee has been formed and the position has been advertised in trade magazines, which has already prompted the arrival of a few resumes.

We are very prepared to move forward with this, said Bill Anderberg, the chamber's president-elect and chairman of the search committee. We know the kind of person we are looking for.

The committee hopes to have a new top executive in place by mid-December and is conducting a nationwide search, Anderberg said.

Other committee members are: Scott Morris of Avista Utilities, John Anhorn of Bank of Southern Oregon, Carol Fischer of Cutler & Co., Curt Johnson of Oregon Opportunities, Rudd Johnson of Bear Creek Corp., Jamie Rayburn of Rayburn & Rayburn CPAs, April Sevcik of General Credit Service, Bob Smith of Smith West Co., Todd Thoreson of DoubleTree Hotel (Red Lion Hotel as of Oct. 4) and Skip Patterson of Preferred Results.

Anderberg and Morris, the chamber's president, heaped praise upon Haas' work.

This chamber has been so well run under Bill's leadership, said Morris. Bill has set the table for whoever the new person is.

He's still going to be a strong community leader, Anderberg said. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Bill Haas.

Haas said he wanted to leave while he still had his health so he could travel. He also said he feels like he's done what he can do.

I think I've given everything that I can give, he said. It's time to bring in somebody new, it really is.