The Early Chamber of Commerce gave area residents and business owners an opportunity to meet its new executive director Kandice Harris Monday.
Throughout the event, Harris spoke with local business and government leaders as well as some of her predecessors who attended.
“It’s going great. I started last week and it’s been back-to-back meeting people,” Harris said. “It’s an honor to come to the university and meet some people I have know for a while and meet some new people.”
In November Rick Phelps, chamber president, announced Harris’ hiring and Harris spent the holiday season relocating from her home in Houston. Harris, a Brownwood High School graduate, said it feels good to come home and make an impact on the local economy. Harris’ timing in accepting the position seems impeccable considering the city of Early recently reported a 46 percent increase in sales tax revenues since 2014.
“I’m excited about the future. We have a great horizon ahead of us and we’re going to see more growth in the future,” Harris said. “I’m just excited to be part of that transition. I’m from this town and I know the ins and outs. I love the area and this was a great job opportunity and an opportunity to come home. My first week was pretty good, pretty hectic and I met a lot of people. For the most part, it was getting reacquainted with the area.”
Harris replaces Domonique Stephens, who has now twice served as interim director. Stephens stepped in when former director Shelly Taft resigned a year ago to take a teaching position with Bangs ISD. She assumed the interim director position again this summer when Shannon Burch resigned, citing health issues and spending more time with her family as the motivation for her departure.
“It’s great. That’s the best way to describe it. I’m glad to be working with Kandice and working on our future,” Stephens said. “There is a lot of positivity. The most important thing was making sure people knew about our reception. We wanted this to be a good way to introduce her to the community. We’re also going to introduce her during our Lunch and Learn on January 25th.”
During her latest tenure as interim director, Stephens oversaw many major activities from Vender’s Row at the Early Texas Showcase to bringing on new member Comanche County Medical Center, one of Comanche County’s largest employers.
“There is a little bit of stress that has fallen off,” Stephens said. “I’m grateful for that opportunity and glad I’m still working with the chamber and helping the community in anyway that I can ... [Kandice] gets to come home and make a positive impact on the community. It’s really going to be beneficial.”
Harris said she is happy to be home and looks forward to working with Early businessmen and women. Although spending her formative years in the area, Harris believes there is always something to discover.
“What I’ve discovered is we all help each other out,” Harris said. “If I have a question, then there is always someone there to help me find the answer or come up with a solution if there is a problem. That is really helpful to have everybody come together in that way.”