Allison Hestand is getting a new job.

The Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors has chosen her to succeed Sue McGowan as the Chamber’s Director of Economic Development and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

McGowan, who became Chamber Executive Director on Aug. 15, 2003, announced in February she would retire after 17 years on the job. Hestand is to succeed her on Aug. 21.

“I was interested in having the opportunity to make Paragould grow and make it better,” Hestand said Tuesday in explaining why she wanted the job. “It’s a passion for me, so this is a dream job.”

Hestand is a graduate of Arkansas State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Finance with a minor in Economics. She has worked as agency manager for M.F. Block Insurance ever since she graduated from ASU, a total of 7-1/2 years. Hestand added, however, that in her capacity as agency manager she’d already had opportunities to work with businesses and industries that help fuel the local economy and add jobs.

Chamber president Kevin Lang said Osage Beach, Mo.-based Community Growth Strategies, LLC had undertaken the search for candidates to succeed McGowan. “We narrowed it down to seven candidates,” he said, “and she was the top-rated one.”

Hestand also expressed delight to be able to work with McGowan during the transition period between the two. “I am super blessed to work for the next few months to learn from her,” she said.

“I’m thrilled,” said incumbent Sue McGowan with a smile. “Allison has been involved in the community for quite some time, and I know she has a great desire to see it progress. And I am looking forward to working with her in the transition.”

McGowan affirmed the transition may last through Dec. 31, but left the door open for a possible earlier departure. “There are a lot of factors to take into consideration,” she said.

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