Bill Thornton is retiring as president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. His last day will be July 7, 2020, the chamber said in a news release.
Thornton joined the chamber staff as director of local business development in July 1989 and was named vice president of economic development in 1992. He became president and CEO in 2000.
To ensure a smooth transition, the chamber said, Thornton will assign some of the responsibilities of president to Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development, effective Oct. 1.
“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with exceptional business and community leaders, as well as an outstanding staff team at the Chamber, past and present,” Thornton said in the announcement.
“With strong community support, the Chamber will continue to meet the evolving needs of this region in order to help Fort Worth address challenges and achieve success for all of our residents,” he said.
As president, Thornton has been deeply involved in numerous community initiatives, including the Wright Amendment agreement, the Base Realignment and Closure task force, and the formation of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council.
Thornton has been recognized as one of the top economic development practitioners by Southern Business & Development magazine, and Businessman of the Year by the Fort Worth Business Press. In 2007, he was named one of Fort Worth’s 50 Most Powerful People by Fort Worth, Texas magazine.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I thank Bill for his thoughtful and steady leadership in a rapidly changing business environment and community,” said Lonnie Nicholson, chairman of the Chamber and CEO of EECU.
During Thornton’s tenure, Fort Worth grew from the 29th to the 13th largest city in the United States and one of the nation’s top places to do business, Nicholson said.
“That doesn’t happen without a visionary Chamber leader working in collaboration with elected officials at all levels and the local business community,” he said.