James Jones looks much younger than his 30 years.
Yet the M&T Bank executive is poised to become the youngest-ever president of the . He will officially start his one-year term at the chamber's large annual meeting Wednesday night.
Jones, an assistant vice president at M&T's downtown Towson branch, succeeds , the vice president of student affairs at .
Nancy Hafford, the chamber's executive director, said Jones represents a youth movement in the organization.
"James has been volunteering with our [Towsontown Spring] Festival for at least five or six years so he's not been helpful just to the chamber but to community events and he's been so supportive of everything," she said. "I like that he brings new ideas, fresh ideas."
Jones, who joined the chamber six years ago when he was an agent at Northwestern Mutual, said he's excited to bring fresh ideas back to his hometown. Jones graduated in 1999 and briefly attended .
Jones, an Abingdon resident, has been with M&T for four years, is married and has a 2-month-old son.
Jones spent some of his childhood in Richmond, VA, but Towson always felt like home. And when he found his way into the business world, hooking up with the Towson chamber felt natural.
"As opposed to some other networking groups, there's a real direct correlation to the work and activity that goes into the community," he said. "The chamber, if they get grants, anything they're doing there's a direct correlation to the community."
Due to county budget constraints, however, the chamber won't be able to rely on the same public grants as last year. These grants in the past have funded programs like Winterfest and the holiday tree-lighting, along with beautification initiatives. Hafford said the chamber needs to make up roughly $70,000 in grant money.
In the next year, Jones looks forward to helping organize fundraisers like and other programs to fill the gap and continue some of the chamber's most popular traditions.
"I don't want to see flowers not hanging on the streets in Towson," he said, adding that it's those sorts of initiatives that make Towson unique.
"There's some things that we do for the community that most other communities don't have. In the wintertime you're not going to drive down any other community and see and tree lightings and that sort of thing, so I'm eager to think-tank what we can do to maintain the things that we have and have had prior to the grants not being as available as they are today."