Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce announces new president/CEO

Published 11:44 am Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors met on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, and unanimously approved the hiring of Steve Ahlenius for the position of President/CEO.

Three finalists were invited for in-person interviews the week of June 20th, which included meetings with various groups of constituents including: Chamber member businesses, staff, board members, and the search committee.  Ahlenius has accepted the position and expects to move to Beaumont in order to begin work at the Chamber in mid-July.

“Thank you to the search committee members who have been working hard for over three months to find the best candidate for this time in the Chamber’s history,” said Craig Escamilla, Chair of the President/CEO Search Committee.

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“Steve Ahlenius brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to further advance our strategic plan and strengthen the Chamber.”

Ahlenius holds an undergraduate degree in History and Political Science from Wayland Baptist University. He earned his Masters degree in Public Administration from Texas Tech University.

Ahlenius is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) recognized by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). He is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

For many years, Ahlenius led the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, which experienced a 100% growth in membership during his tenure. In 2001, the National Association of Membership Development (NAMD) selected the McAllen Chamber as the National Chamber of Commerce.

In 2008, the Chamber became the first Accredited Chamber of Commerce in the Rio Grande Valley by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and received a five-star accreditation in 2014 (one of eight in Texas), and again in 2019.

In 2015, Ahlenius was awarded the Marvin Hurley Award, the highest honor that a chamber executive can receive, by the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives (TCCE) for exemplary leadership and service to the chamber of commerce profession.

In 2017, Ahlenius received the distinguished service award from the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives. He served as TCCE Chairman in 2021.

Ahlenius has led the way in developing 17 different innovation and start-up programs and has helped launch over 200 start-ups. He renovated an old church in the downtown area into an event center and transformed a 60,000 square foot space, which was an old library, into a creative incubator, tech space and co-working space.

Ahlenius established the first-ever food truck park in South Texas, He has led numerous business retention and development programs and community development programs throughout his career. Ahlenius led efforts that were recognized for creating an “eco-system” and a business model for innovation and inclusion for women-led micro-businesses by IEDC.

Ahlenius remains active in many other local and statewide organizations, volunteering his services on the Board of Directors for the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives Association and the Texas Association of Business. He formerly served on the Board of Trustees of Wayland Baptist University and received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.

In addition, he has served twice as Chairman for the United Way of South Texas and as Chairman of Rio South Texas Economic Development Council. Ahlenius is married to Jeanette and has three grown children and seven grandchildren.

“I’m excited to come to Beaumont because of the unprecedented growth and opportunities for the city and region,” said Ahlenius.

“We are thrilled to welcome Steve to the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce,” said Josh Smith, Chamber Board Chair.  “He brings over thirty years of Chamber experience to our area which can help further our organization, effectively serve members, and advance our entire region.”

The Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, a 501(c)(6) serves its members and community as the voice of business, a convener for leaders of influence, it is a champion for a strong and vibrant community and provides opportunities for the business community to connect and grow.  The Chamber collaborates with city and county-wide organizations and align local chambers to advocate for issues for the greater good.