BARTOW BIO — Chamber exec. serves business through passion for community
by Matt Shinall
Oct 16, 2011 | 1255 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For Joe Frank Harris Jr., president and CEO of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, business is conducted in a jovial manner, all are greeted with a smile and a handshake, and home is always on his mind.

Most know of his father, Cartersville native and former governor of Georgia, Joe Frank Harris Sr. -- at the very least, newcomers will relate the name to a local stretch of U.S. Highway 41. Like his father, successful in bringing business to Georgia, Joe Frank Harris Jr. carries a vision of strategic growth.

Focused and passionate for his community, Harris Jr. has rejuvenated a campaign to educate Bartow County residents on the impacts of shopping locally. Since taking the helm, initially in an interim role, the chamber -- a nonprofit organization -- has drastically increased membership and retention. Having been named to the job on a permanent, full-time basis -- Harris wouldn't think of making it anything less.

Name: Joe Frank Harris Jr.

Occupation/Title: President/CEO

City of residence: Cartersville

Family: Brooke (wife for 22 years), Catherine (daughter) and Kimsey (son).

Education: Graduated from Cartersville High School in 1982. Finance and Law Degrees from the University of Georgia.

What has been the most rewarding part of your role in the community?

A. To witness people come together to accomplish unbelievably great and seemingly impossible goals.

What would you consider your greatest personal or professional achievement?

A. Personally, accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Professionally, being part of the teams that helped build the chamber building, rebuild the Summer Hill High School and the Troop 24 Boy Scout Hut at Dellinger Park.

What is the best advice you've ever been given?

A. "When you find yourself in a hole QUIT digging."

My father gave me that advice and what it applies to is, when you make a mistake or you're heading in the wrong direction, it's better to admit your mistake, apologize and then go on, go back in the right direction. Sometimes, we keep making excuses and we keep digging it deeper. It can apply to your marriage, or it can apply to business or whatever else.

A lot of times your human nature is, you just want to keep making excuses because you don't want to admit you made a mistake or admit that you're wrong.

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?

A. I met my wife, Brooke, on a blind date. .... She's a big, big [Georgia] Tech fan and I'm a big, big [Georgia] Bulldog fan, but it's worked out well.

We got engaged within a pretty short time, it scared me to death. Our rehearsal dinner was on the one-year anniversary of our blind date. I had never moved that fast and I was kind of surprised at how quickly I fell [for her].

But it was the right time. We were both 25 when we got married.

Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

A. At home with my family.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

A. Faithful, loyal and trustworthy.

If you were not in this line of work, what would you like to do?

A. I cannot imagine having a job that I could love more. I recently heard a great quote: "If you love what you are doing, you will never work a day in your life." I am so blessed to work at the chamber and live in Bartow County!