As president and CEO of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Sharon Mason’s job is to help build consensus on tough issues surrounding economic development. But where many see a stumbling block—a politically fractious county, region, and state—Mason, 39, sees an advantage. “We have a very diverse community and state with diverse views, and that’s a great strength of ours,” she says. “Whenever we address a challenge, it’s important to bring all stakeholders to the table.” For example, after the state passed House Bill 930 last year, opening up opportunities for regional transit planning, the chamber convened a transportation and mobility committee with representation from local and state government, Cobb CIDs (community improvement districts), and businesses of all sizes.
Mason took over the chamber’s head post in January 2018 after a 10-member search panel unanimously selected her. The Snellville native boasted broad chamber experience, including five different roles at Cobb and a position at the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. Under her leadership, Cobb’s chamber has collected input from more than 1,000 local businesses to devise a five-year strategic plan that, in year one, generated nearly 6,000 jobs and $350 million in private investment. Looking back further, Mason says she’s proud of her work in creating SelectCobb, the economic development strategy that has brought in some 28,000 high-quality jobs in six years.
In her spare time, Mason loves going on family hikes (she lives in East Cobb with her husband and fifth-grade daughter) and attending Atlanta United and Braves games. She’s intimately involved in several nonprofit organizations, including Marietta-based MUST Ministries, which serves the homeless. She also sees her chamber work as a way to give back. “We all know someone who has been without a job or underemployed,” she says. “[The chamber] makes a tremendous difference in the livelihood of the community.”