The leaders of the local chapter of the 92-year-old Exchange Club have surrendered their charter, saying they want to devote their time, energy and money more intensely on local causes.
In a statement, the group says is has reconstituted itself as the Economic Club of Nashville, or ECON. Its 18 founding members say they are out to provide “a dynamic forum for business and community leaders to identify and discuss economic, social and political issues of special interest to Nashvillians.”
ECON’s founders are led by Clay Bright of Brasfield & Gorrie and Tom Harwell of Eakin Partners — their names and full launch statement are here — and say the Exchange Club chapter has maintained its member rolls despite the recent downturn. The main factor driving their decision is making sure that money previously headed to the national Exchange organization will stay in Nashville.
“Over the years, the commonalities shared by the Nashville club and the national organization have changed, with the Nashville club moving more toward a more self-reliant, locally focused organization. The economics of successfully supporting the local club office and programs important to local organizations, yet also supporting a national office, have led members to feel it is time to chart a new path,” the group said in a statement.
ECON leaders were careful to point out that their new venture does not reflect on past Exchange Club leadership and that they will continue to support the Exchange Club Family Center as well as other charities. Former Exchange Club president Charlie Cook voiced his support for ECON and immediate past president Pamela Johnson — who is part of the new ECON board — said the move is about focusing locally.
“We feel greater responsibility to devote intellectual and financial resources more directly to those needing our support in Nashville,” Johnson said. “Members of the Exchange Club of Nashville felt their financial and human resources should stay in Nashville, providing much-needed support to important social service and cultural charities.”