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Thomas Plays Passionate Role on the Memphis Stage

The following is a feature in the Memphis Crossroads Magazine. Click here to view the issue in its entirety.


After spending just a few minutes with Chuck Thomas III, the passion he has for his employer could not be more obvious.
 
But as much as Thomas enjoys his role as Regional Director of External & Legislative Affairs for AT&T Tennessee, his passion for his hometown of Memphis and the work of the Greater Memphis Chamber is just as evident.
 
Thomas is a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and serves on the Government Affairs Committee. Through that involvement, Thomas has played a role in the city’s advancement.
 
“I’m excited about the Chamber’s focus because it focuses on all of Memphis: children, jobs and businesses,” he said. “We’re bringing the investment here to Memphis. When I started in 2009 with the Chamber, I had no idea how important it was to the success of Memphis. I’ve never seen an organization work so hard.”
 
The same could be said for Thomas as the face of AT&T in the Memphis region.
 
One of his roles is to serve as the company’s liaison between the business community and government entities such as the Tennessee General Assembly and local boards of commissioners and city councils. His team helped bring U-verse to Tennessee, which brought additional options for cable TV service.
 
“I’m a blessed man to be able to represent a corporation like AT&T in the Memphis area,” Thomas said. “I was fortunate to be able to make it here in Memphis and have a career in telecommunications in the city.”
 
Thomas worked his way up part time in the telecommunications industry, eventually managing large national accounts. He went on to spend 10 years as a national account manager for AT&T before getting the call to take on his current job, which sees him act as territory CEO for the company representing it in 14 West Tennessee counties.
 
And much of his work is in line with the Chamber’s mission of job creation.
 
“We want to make Memphis competitive and in doing that we ensure investments will continue, investments such as fiber to buildings and 4G LTE increasing speeds in Memphis,” Thomas said. “We know when businesses move to this area they want to know they have a network that can compete. My job is to ensure there are no roadblocks for us to build the infrastructure. Memphis is certainly the place to be.”
 
Memphis is the place that has been center stage for Thomas. He grew up in Orange Mound and graduated from Melrose High School where his siblings also attended school; his mother is a retired Melrose teacher. Chuck attended MVSU/Memphis State University on a band scholarship. While at Melrose, he played first chair trumpet with jazz great Kirk Whalum. They both graduated in 1976.
 
He recalled his first job as a concessions vendor in the stands of the Mid-South Coliseum.
 
“Every night that the doors of the coliseum were open, I was there selling popcorn and Cokes,” Thomas said. “I’ve always been engaged in Memphis.”
 
Today, Thomas serves the community in a number of ways. Yes, there is his work at AT&T and his involvement at the Chamber. But Thomas has served various boards in the community, including at the LeMoyne-Owen College, The Federal Reserve and now The United Way.
 
Greg Duckett is senior vice president and chief legal officer of Baptist Memorial Health Care. He also serves as chair of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. He said Thomas has been an exceptional member of the organization, going above what’s often expected.
 
“He’s extremely passionate about not just the work he does at his own company but advancing the interest of the broader community,” he said. “His passion for Memphis shows in the daily activities he undertakes.”
 
Part of the work the committee does is in concert with the Chamber’s desire to be more actively involved in the electorate process. It serves as a sounding board to receive information on candidates that is then used to help the Chamber’s JOBS PAC, a committee led by Chamber members, decide which candidates to support.
 
Thomas, Duckett said, has been integral in that process thanks to his ability to identify individuals who have been supportive of business-related issues.
 
As part of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, Thomas also was part of a Memphis team that won what was considered an important victory for the city when the de-annexation bill in the state legislature was sent back to Summer Study Committee.
 
The Chamber board and the Government Affairs Committee were actively involved in the de-annexation issue along with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
 
“In order for this community to thrive there has to be a sufficient tax base for the city to provide services it needs to the citizenry so that we can be competitive with other areas that are trying to attract businesses from Memphis,” Duckett said.
 
“At the end of the day, the things we’re most concerned about from the Chamber’s perspective is how do we attract and keep jobs here in our community.”
 
With business leaders like Thomas, Memphis is poised to accomplish just that. 

Story by: Lance Wiedower
Photo by: Troy Glasgow
Posted: 6/21/2016 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: AT&T, Board, Chuck, Corner, Crossroads, Directors, Memphis, of, Office, Thomas



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THE M BLOG
The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 (cmeek@memphischamber.com) or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (jfish@memphischamber.com).

 

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