Kristina “Kris” Collins, 35, an eight-year veteran of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, was named the organization’s new senior vice president for economic development, beating out candidates from across the nation, the chamber announced Tuesday.

Collins will oversee efforts to recruit business and industry and help existing employers expand their local presence.

She most recently served as director of business retention and expansion, but took on recruitment duties when the woman she succeeds, Sarah Roberts, resigned in April.

“Kris had the opportunity to learn from one of the best economic development professionals in the state and she has proven herself to be very capable,” said Matt Meadors, president and CEO of the chamber, who hired Collins with input from a chamber advisory committee.

“We received more than 40 résumés from candidates across the country expressing interest in the position, including economic development professionals as well as individuals from the private sector,” said Glenn Robinson, president and CEO of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, who chaired the advisory group.

“In the end, we felt we had the best candidate in Kris Collins,” Robinson said in a prepared statement. “She is a capable, proven performer and we are confident she is going to emerge as one of the finest economic development leaders in the state of Texas, and beyond.”

Collins said in a phone interview she will continue to pursue the goals of the chamber’s strategic plan, “while growing economic development efforts at the regional level.”

She said it is important for communities such as Waco, Temple, Belton and Killeen to pool their efforts and resources to attract national prospects to Central Texas.

“We’ve already partnered with Temple on a couple of opportunities, and we hope to collaborate on others,” Collins said.

Collins said she expects the chamber to make several announcements involving new industry by year’s end.

“There are several large projects we are working on now,” said Collins, noting she already has taken the lead in courting these prospects.

In May, Collins told the Tribune-Herald that at least 10 companies, most of them involved in manufacturing, are looking to expand their Waco operations or open new plants.

“This is shaping up to be the strongest year for economic development that we have seen, in terms of job creation and capital investment,” he said.

The chamber has targeted five industries in its strategic plan. They are advanced manufacturing; aerospace and defense; health care; professional and financial services; and supply chain management. Collins and her colleagues keep these in mind as they pursue leads.

Six of the chamber’s 21 employees make up the economic development team that Collins now will oversee.

The chamber soon will advertise to fill the position Collins is leaving to become senior vice president.

Collins graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in government. She is a certified business retention and expansion project coordinator through Business Retention and Expansion International, as well as a member of the International and Texas Economic Developments Councils.

She is pursuing professional certification through the IEDC to become an economic developer.

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