New Chamber CEO Touts Grounds-Up Approach - Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Originally published in the El Dorado News-Times on March 5, 2014.
By: David Showers
A child of the 70s, Jeremy Stratton had an affinity for fashioning miniature cities from Legos, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.
any good architect, he understood the foundation’s role in underpinning
the towering superstructures of his faux cities. It’s an understanding
he’s extrapolated to economic development, which he described as a
"You have to develop the foundation and
have the basic knowledge,” said the newly minted CEO/president of the El
Dorado Chamber of Commerce. "Then you build on it.”
spent the first 48 hours of his tenure acquiring some of that said
knowledge by meeting with civic clubs and pressing the flesh at
Tuesday’s meet and greet at the chamber. He’s still getting oriented to
his new surroundings and gauging how best to leverage the chamber’s
capabilities, saying he’ll proceed cautiously until he gets up to speed.
Having grown up in Montana and graduated from Central College in Pella,
Iowa, Stratton is new to the Deep South.
"I’m trying to get a
picture of what our assets are, what we need to do,” said Stratton, who
served as the director of the Danville, Va., office of economic
development prior to arriving in El Dorado. "It’s one thing to look on
the internet and proclaim what you need to do, but it’s another thing to
see it up close. It’s going to take me a while to meet everyone and get
familiar with the streets and roads and learn the history of El Dorado.
We don’t want to haphazardly do things that could hurt El Dorado in the
future. We want everything to build on each other, so it strengthens El
The terrain isn’t wholly unfamiliar to him. Like El
Dorado, Danville is isolated from the interstate highway system. But
Stratton doesn’t see it as a detriment, as he plans to put a map on the
city and chamber’s website showing El Dorado’s centrality in relation to
major economic hubs such as Houston, Memphis and New Orleans. He hopes
it will encourage foreign companies to invest their capital here.
extensive list of international contacts distinguished him from other
applicants. He said some of those contacts have expressed interest in
scouting the area.
"They’ll see we’re a lower cost alternative to
(Memphis, Houston and New Orleans),” he said. "I think that will help
us with international companies.”
Citing the El Dorado Promise and the revitalized downtown, he said El Dorado has the elements to attract industry.
thing El Dorado has is a fascinating downtown area, with restaurants,
coffee shops, night life,” he said. "You wouldn’t expect that if you
just looked on the internet. It’s things like that that really make a
The small town charms were part of what he and his
fiancé, Erica, found appealing. Stratton said it was an easy sell for
him to convince Erica to move. The area spoke to the small town
sensibility she developed growing up in Martinsville, Va.
think people are very friendly here and down to earth, very genuine” he
said. "There’s a good sense of community. Erica and I were looking for