Chamber Names Barkley Garrett Vice President for Economic Development

Veteran economic developer and Alabama native to begin role on April 15th

Barkley Garrett

The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama has named Barkley Garrett, CEcD, its Vice President for Economic Development. Filling the role previously held by Al Spencer, who retired earlier this year, Garrett will lead all economic development activities of the Chamber, including aggressive efforts to expand the knowledge-based business sector and continued recruitment of new-to-market retail investment.

Garrett has served as Executive Director of the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance, a public-private economic development organization with a multi-county footprint located in Niles, Michigan, since 2016. He previously served as Director of Economic Development for the City of Elkhart, Indiana. Garrett’s successes while in Elkhart included the elimination of over two million square feet of dilapidated brownfield manufacturing space and the recruitment of the largest retail development in Elkhart County in over 20 years. He also served two Indiana governors as a Project Manager, Director of the Office of Business Recruitment and Expansion, and Director of the North Central Region for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation/Indiana Department of Commerce. Garrett managed projects that resulted in the commitment of 6,000 new jobs, the retention of 18,000 positions, and capital investment of over $1.2 billion.

An Alabama native, Garrett earned a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Finance and Investment Management from The University of Alabama. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from Spring Harbor University in Michigan. Garrett has earned the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) designation through the International Economic Development Council and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

“We are fortunate to add someone with such impressive credentials and proven economic development experience to this community,” said Chamber President and CEO, Jim Page. “Barkley brings a very unique perspective having not only worked in economic development for state and municipal government, but also through a public-private partnership that had a regional focus. That broad experience, coupled with his genuine passion for his home state and alma mater, will help us take our economic diversification efforts to the next level.”  

“Barkley will be a great addition to the Chamber team and we’re proud to help bring him back home,” said Kimberly McMurray, Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors. “We are also proud that this position received a significant amount interest from all over the country. That speaks volumes about this great community and the strength of the Chamber.”

“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the economic development efforts for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama,” said Garrett. “It’s also great to be coming home to the State of Alabama. As Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said, ‘Momma called. And when Momma calls, you just come runnin’.”