Tara Barney was a fan of Evansville and the Southwest Indiana Chamber long before she ever considered joining it.
“I’ve actually paid attention to this chamber for quite a few years because we were in a shared association, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives,” says the Columbus, Ohio, native. “When the Southwest Indiana Chamber won the Chamber of the Year award a few years ago, I was right there cheering for them.”
Barney has spent the majority of her career working in chambers and economic development throughout the Midwest, while also doing a stint in Florida. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Ohio State University, Columbus, and a bachelor’s degree in the same field from Miami University, Ohio. Her previous position as CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce in Davenport, Iowa, prepared her well for taking over the Southwest Indiana Chamber head role.
“The position in Quad Cities was a little bit of a different model,” says Barney. “With the Southwest Indiana Chamber, I am most interested in how we are doing all we can to help the business community to really build sustainable regional economies. For me, the biggest challenge — and opportunity — probably is to learn to be an effective colleague to a great staff who we have here at the chamber.”
For Barney, her goals are focused on the organization being the voice of businesses in the region while also being a partner to continue the growth and success of the business community.
“As an example, completing the I-69 corridor and building the new bridge are huge opportunities for our region,” she says. “It’s going to change the shape of our labor shed.”
While she settles in her new role, Barney also is taking time to get to know Evansville and the surrounding areas. Every weekend has brought a visit to a new location, from Victoria National Golf Course in Newburgh, Indiana, and New Harmony, Indiana, to the museums and popular outdoor parks throughout region.
“I certainly enjoy the welcoming attitude of everyone I’ve met,” says Barney. “I think this community is extraordinarily aligned around its interests in being a stellar part of the Midwest.”
For more information on the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce, visit swinchamber.com.