The Chamber’s President & CEO Larry McElwain announces retirement

by | May 24, 2018 | Doing It Local, Professional Services

Larry McElwain, President and CEO of The Chamber, Lawrence, Kansas, will retire from the position effective January 31, 2019. McElwain has led The Chamber since June 2014, overseeing the strategic priorities for The Chamber and leading its staff. During his tenure, The Chamber has focused on growing and serving membership, while fostering economic development through various activities and arenas.

“I have been truly blessed to lead this important community organization, doing what I could to serve the many wonderful residents in our region,” McElwain said. “The Chamber has accomplished outstanding things and is poised to continue advancing under new leadership. I look forward to the next phase of my life here in Lawrence.”

McElwain spent more than four decades as the co-founder and chairman of 21st Century Funeral Company, which owned Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. After selling the remainder of that business in October 2013, he left retirement less than a year later to lead The Chamber. He previously served as Chair of The Chamber’s Board of Directors, and his ability to build relationships with the local business community, educational institutions, and government leaders is a valuable asset that served him well as the President and CEO.

“The Board of Directors deeply appreciates everything Larry has done in stabilizing and growing The Chamber,” said Board Chair Michele Hammann. “He built very deep connections with the Lawrence and Douglas County communities. Larry has positioned The Chamber for future success as we continue to grow forward.”

Additional highlights of McElwain’s accomplishments during his tenure include:

  • The hiring of Steve Kelly, a seasoned economic development professional, as the Vice President of Economic Development.
  • A successful capital campaign for economic development in 2016, raising $1.8 million from more than115 private-sector investors, to be used over five years, through 2021.
  • The development of The Catalyst program in conjunction with City of Lawrence staff, accomplishing a streamlined incentive process for Lawrence VenturePark and other commercial properties.
  • Building connections between The Chamber and its members, local neighborhoods, the City of Lawrence, Douglas County, the University of Kansas, the Bioscience & Technology Business Center, the City of Eudora, and Baldwin City entities.

During McElwain’s time leading The Chamber, the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center opened its doors (2015), Lawrence became a NetWork Kansas Metropolitan E-Community (2015), McElwain was inducted into the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame (2017), and ground was broken on the first project in Lawrence VenturePark (2018).

In the following months, The Chamber’s Executive Committee will oversee the formation of a transition team to ensure a seamless change of leadership.

About The Chamber, Lawrence, Kansas

The Chamber, Lawrence, Kansas, is a non-for-profit organization that promotes the economic vitality of Lawrence and Douglas County. The Chamber represents the interests of our members and the Lawrence & Douglas County business community by facilitating strategic partnerships for the benefit of our community, educating the community on the benefits of economic development, advocating for local and regional competitive economic viability, and promoting civic leadership and community engagement.



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