Manhattan's new chamber of commerce president/CEO starts first day

Published: Mar. 25, 2019 at 10:40 PM CDT
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The Manhattan area chamber of commerce has a new president and CEO taking over from long-time leader Lyle Butler.

Jason Smith got right to work Monday, his first day on the job.

He says the most important thing he can do right now - is to listen.

Smith comes from Norman Oklahoma - where he was president and CEO of their economic development coalition.

"I always have joked that my hobby is work," Smith said.

Before coming to Manhattan, Smith pursued his hobby in Abilene, Texas and Lincoln Nebraska, the latter being a college town just like Manhattan.

Smith says that experience is why he knows it's important to keep the youth and recent K-State graduates in the community.

"I've felt very passionate about that," Smith said.

That helps local businesses find skilled workers - and in-turn benefits the economy.

Smith says the Manhattan chamber of commerce already has a good track record - and good people to help keep things on course.

"I'm here to help fulfill their mission and their program of work," he said.

For now, he'll focus on listening to ideas from his colleagues in the chamber and people in the community.

"In this profession one of the things you learn early on is you work for your community. So you are a servant to your community, to your leadership and ... I've been very impressed with Manhattan's ability to plan for their future," he said.

"I'm very impressed with the work that Lyle did here, and the staff has done here over the previous 10-15 years, and I'm just hoping that we can build on that."

Though it's only day one, Smith says he already knows Manhattan will be a great place to call home.