Murphy takes the reins at chamber
As the new year begins, a new President and CEO is in charge of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, the Ardmore Development Authority and the Ardmore Tourism Authority. On January 1, William P. "Bill" Murphy assumed the position, though he has been working with the outgoing President and CEO Mita Bates for over two months in preparation for the role.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Murphy received a bachelors and masters degree in urban and public administration from Wright State University. While earning his graduate degree, Wright worked for Dayton Power and Light, and he credits this position for fostering his love of economic development.
From there he went on run the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce for four years, and he believes this role has provided valuable experience he can apply to Ardmore.
"Georgia has very similar statutory roles for economic development that allowed cities to contract with the chamber of commerce," Murphy said. "So the chamber contracted with the city to run the development authority, and it's a very similar arrangement to what we have here."
Murphy left Georgia to work for the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, and it was in this position where he first met Bates and Vice President of Economic Development Andrea Anderson.
"What really impressed me is how well respected they were both within the state and nationally for the work they do," he said. "They were really, as I like to put it, punching above their weight. For a community of this size, Ardmore is among the best in Oklahoma."
Murphy was then recruited to his most recent position as the Deputy Secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce.
"We were doing great things and I had a great team there, but I quickly found out how much I missed the hands-on development of working with communities," he said.
Throughout his time in Kansas, Murphy maintained his relationships with Bates and Anderson through social media. After hearing about Bates' upcoming retirement at a conference in June, Murphy decided to apply for the position.
Bates said she was impressed by Murphy throughout the application and hiring process.
"Bill was very thoughtful and serious about this," Bates said. "He made a trip down before he was even one of the finalists. He wanted to see the community, and I think that speaks volumes. You'd be amazed at how many people are recruited to positions and they've never stepped foot in the community."
After accepting the position, Murphy returned to Ardmore and made on offer on a home which he ultimately purchased. He has been impressed with how welcoming the community has been.
"From the very first trip down, it felt very homey and like a place where I could get involved and make a difference," he said. "In less than two months, we've had sos many people come to the house to drop off cookies or wine or cards to welcome us, and that's been more than I have received collectively in the past 20 years! It really says a lot about how welcoming Ardmore is."
In looking at the work that lies ahead, Murphy said the key to success will be building and maintaining strong partnerships.
"It's been clear from my very first interview through today, that's it's all about partnerships —partnerships with the city and the different boards and commissions that support our work," he said. "Another partnership that I know has been very special to Mita is the tribal partnership that we enjoy with the Chickasaw Nation. That's not something I experienced growing up, but having spent time and Tulsa and now being here, I can truly appreciate the role that tribal nations play in helping communities prosper. The Chickasaw are doing phenomenal things to support their community and their nation, and I only see our partnership with them growing stronger."
Most importantly, Murphy wants to continue building up the community on the foundations already in place.
"What I'm most looking forward to is building on the great work that has already been done," he said. "With all of the momentum we have going now, we've really got the opportunity to not only work with our existing employers and helping them to grow, but also to continue the marketing work that we've done to really raise the awareness of Ardmore."