A brighter tomorrow: Siler Area Chamber’s vision for economic development and growth

By Gene Galin

Siler City, NC – I had the opportunity to sit down with the CEO of the Siler Area Chamber of Commerce, Josh Harris, to delve into the intricacies of economic growth, community development, and the challenges and triumphs that come with steering the ship of commerce in western Chatham County. This is part 2 of our conversation. [Part 1 is HERE]

EDC Insights: Navigating the Waves of Progress

Earlier in the day, before our sit-down, Harris attended a Chatham EDC meeting. The EDC meetings serve as a nexus of information exchange and collaboration among key stakeholders invested in the economic vitality of the region. While the agenda may vary, ranging from policy updates to strategic planning sessions, the underlying theme remains constant: fostering an environment conducive to growth and innovation.

Reflecting on his role at these gatherings, the Harris emphasized the importance of community partnership. “I’m there as a community partner,” he explained, “to share updates on what our chamber is doing and what we have coming up.” This approach underscores the interconnectedness of various entities working towards a common goal—the prosperity of Siler City and its surrounding areas.

WolfSpeed: A Beacon of Progress

Amidst the landscape of ongoing developments, one project looms large—the rapid ascent of WolfSpeed in Siler City. Described as “going very fast,” the Josh’s remarks shed light on the magnitude of this endeavor. With construction progressing swiftly, the anticipation surrounding WolfSpeed’s completion reverberates through the community, signaling not just the physical expansion of infrastructure but also the promise of job creation and economic stimulation in the Siler City area.

Revitalization: Breathing Life into Siler City area

As Josh reminisced about the ebbs and flows of Siler City’s history, from its bustling past to the stagnation of recent years, Harris exhibited a spirit of optimism. “It’s great to see a lot of life coming back,” he remarked, echoing the sentiments of many residents witnessing the resurgence of their hometown. The infusion of vitality, including initiatives like “Wake Up Wednesdays,” underscores the Chamber’s commitment to fostering a vibrant community where businesses thrive and residents flourish.

Lessons from the Field: Cultivating a Culture of Success

Drawing parallels between his coaching days and his current role, Harris shared insights gleaned from navigating challenges and fostering teamwork. Highlighting the transformative power of a positive workplace culture, he recounted a success story where a business revamped its approach, leading to a surge in productivity and employee retention. These lessons in leadership and collaboration serve as guiding principles in his endeavors to nurture growth and resilience within the business community.

Looking Ahead: A Vision for Progress

It appears to be pretty evident that for Josh, this isn’t just a job—it’s a calling rooted in a deep sense of belonging and commitment to community. He envisions a future where the Siler City area continues to evolve and thrive while staying true to its heritage and strengths. “We need to build on our strengths while embracing change,” he affirmed, encapsulating the ethos driving his vision for Western Chatham County.

Watch on YouTube Part 2 Conversation with Siler Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Josh Harris – 4.17.24

00:17 Updates and community partnership at the EDC meeting.

  • Chamber’s role in providing updates and community involvement.
  • Overview of the exciting developments in Chatham County and Siler City, particularly with Wolfspeed and revitalization efforts.

02:49 Building connections and relationships are the most fulfilling part of being the CEO at the chamber.

  • CEOs love to learn about what people are doing and how they operate, particularly about the challenges they’ve overcome and future plans.
  • Helping to build and develop the community is a heavily-held responsibility; workplace culture and employment retainment are specific challenges some businesses face.

05:17 Positive impact of employee-centric approach on workplace culture and productivity

  • They transformed workplace culture leading to increased retention, safety hours, and production.
  • Emphasized building relationships with employees for better buy-in and productivity.

08:13 Learning the importance of culture and leadership in achieving success.

  • Transforming a losing baseball team into a winning one by focusing on culture and leadership.
  • Transitioning from studying physical therapy to coaching baseball and taking on a coaching position at a young age.

10:34 Transition from coaching high school baseball to college baseball

  • Driving an hour one way for an opportunity to coach college baseball with no pay
  • Learning to connect with players and build trust despite lack of playing experience

13:05 CEO Josh Harris discusses his journey and impact on the community

  • Josh Harris shares his growth period and experience working up to the recruiting coordinator position in baseball.
  • Josh met his wife in college, and they’ve been married for 10 years with three kids, playing a significant role in his life and work.

15:35 Embracing change while building on community strengths

  • Adapting to changes in the community and surrounding areas
  • Utilizing and building on the strengths of the community while embracing new ideas

18:13 Josh Harris on the interview process

  • Josh Harris had to do a lot of pre-work before becoming official CEO
  • Josh Harris was intrigued by the vision and mission of the Chamber of Commerce