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Chamber names interim leader: Columbus entrepreneur, long-time member, Cooney, tackles position

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Columbus entrepreneur Tim Cooney has been named interim president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.

Cooney, president of graphics and signage maker Advantage One Color Lab Inc., will work for the chamber weekdays 8 a.m. to noon to focus on member recruitment and retention while the search for a full-time president continues.

Cooney said that, as a business owner and long-time chamber member, he can tell current and potential members about how being part of the chamber helped his business and enriched his life through networking and community engagement.

“I have a very deep passion for the chamber,” Cooney said.

The chamber’s prior president, Jack Hess, left this year to become the executive director of the new Institute for Coalition Building.

Cooney, 58, was born in northern Iowa and came to Columbus in 1979 to open a camera store, which has evolved to focus primarily on generating trade show displays.

“Being part of the community is really important to me,” he said.

A city like Columbus doesn’t get to where it is without people stepping up, Cooney said.

Paula Hartwell, chamber board chairwoman, said that Cooney, as a previous board chairman, brings the right expertise and attitude to help retain current and attract new chamber members.

Cooney has a deep understanding of the chamber’s policies and procedures, because he helped update them, Hartwell said.

Hess said via email that Cooney “has been one of the most engaged chamber members and selfless servant leaders that the organization could ever wish to have.”

Few members have contributed to the chamber’s success as much as Cooney, Hess said.

“Thanks to his three decades of experience as a local entrepreneur, he has the deep respect of the membership and has honed his networking skills to an art form which he enthusiastically teaches to up-and-coming business leaders.”

In his spare time, Cooney likes to work in his ravine garden, which includes stairs, a bridge, a creek, lights and about eight tons of stone. Cooney took his first Master Gardener course in the 1980s and once hosted on his property more than 50 people from the Bloomington-based Southern Indiana Daylily, Hosta, Daffodil & Iris Society.

Hartwell said that the chamber still is interviewing potential candidates and reviewing credentials. She said officials hope to name a full-time president early next year.

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