SHIAWASSEE REGIONAL Chamber of Commerce (SRCC) President and CEO Jeff Deason (top left) announced his retirement from the organization at the SRCC Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, Aug. 13.
“The Shiawassee region is losing a great leader. Jeff’s are big shoes to fill. He’s the face of the chamber, leading our small business community as a convener of diverse organizations and people, and being a behind-the-scenes but effective catalyst for much-needed change,” says Heidi O’Dea, SRCC board chair. “We are all grateful for his leadership on large projects such as the Armory and community events such as Oktoberfest. He is known as a leader among his Michigan chamber colleagues and will be missed in every one of the many networks in which he’s connected. We wish Jeff well as he moves on to the exciting next phase of his life.”
Deason has been with the SRCC for seven years, coming from Indian Trails where he was national sales director. During his tenure, Deason was awarded the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals’ 2018 Michigan Chamber Professional Award for his role as a chamber industry frontrunner in Michigan. He also conceived the idea for – and worked collaboratively to earn – a $150,000 Prosperity Award from Consumers Energy Foundation in late 2019 to transform part of the now-closed Owosso Middle School into an artists’ community when it is redeveloped.
His biggest accomplishment was overseeing the $5.5 million renovation of the Owosso Armory into modern, high-quality, class-A office space. Since its opening in June 2018, it has been at nearly full capacity, hosted multiple Armory Market and other community events and fulfilled its mission of being the hub of community and business partnerships in the region. Deason and his team worked for five years, navigating miles of complicated funding programs to make downtown’s newest gem a reality, according to O’Dea. His innovative fortitude resulted in a $1.47 million grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, as well as $1.24 million Small Deal Fund that combined funds from federal Historic Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits through the National Trust Community Investment Corporation – the first such pairing in the nation as part of an NTCIC national main street initiative. Deason worked closely with Owosso Main Street and other key stakeholders to make this happen.
But it’s not just a beautiful building along the river Deason is largely credited for, says O’Dea. He leaves behind a legacy of collaboration, respect, excellence and good humor.
“Through it all, my goal was to remain a positive influence among my peers, in the community and through every interaction I have had as I represented this organization,” Deason shared.
“Together, we have fulfilled many stretch goals as a board and staff,” continued Deason. “I could not be prouder of my team. They are not just coworkers, but friends and family I now leave behind to accomplish vital work. I will miss them greatly, but I know they are prepared and fully capable leaders who have only the best interest of the SRCC at heart.”
The board’s executive committee has appointed Sue Kadlek, SRCC vice president, as interim CEO while a search is conducted for a new leader. Kadlek has been at the chamber for 22 years.