Phil Trenary has been named the new president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber.
Trenary is the second leader of the economic development agency in a row to come from the aviation industry. Trenary, the former president and CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, is taking over from former Northwest Airlines executive John Moore, who retired in January. And the previous chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors was former Memphis and Shelby County Authority president and CEO Larry Cox.
Though the Chamber hired the Centre Group to conduct a national search for Moore’s replacement, the Chamber Board’s executive committee selected Trenary, at least in part, because of his established roots in economic and community development circles.
City Councilman Harold Collins, who privately urged Trenary to stay in Memphis and consider the leadership position at the Chamber, applauded the selection.
“I always thought (Trenary) would be an excellent choice because he already knows the lay off the land in Memphis having spent a considerable amount of time leading Pinnacle and being a good corporate citizen in Memphis,” said Collins. “I think (Trenary) being named the new president and CEO makes it a seamless transition.”
Trenary takes the reigns of the organization as it seeks to loosen poverty’s grip on the Memphis area through job creation and retention efforts, which include an increased focus on early childhood education and local politics. Currently, the Chamber is urging the city to switch to a 401(k) retirement system instead of relying on its traditional pension program, which is severely underfunded.
Trenary said this week he has been impressed with the coordinated commitment local stakeholders – from individuals to neighborhood organizations, community groups and companies – have shown toward moving Memphis forward. Trenary also said he was particularly excited by the prospect of a new generation of Memphians getting involved.
“The young people understand that something is happening here and we have to understand and embrace that and if we do we’ll be off to the races,” Trenary said.
Trenary, 59, lives Downtown with his wife, Bridget and their children, Justin, Brittney and Pearce.