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Hudson to head up Metro United Way campaign

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Officials hopeful his influence will help contributions

By Lisa King

This year when the Metro United Way kicks off its 2011 campaign, it may pack a little more wallop.

What officials hope will give it more “kick” is the presence of a local community figure who has agreed to step in as chairperson, someone that just about everyone in the community knows and respects — Bobby Hudson.

Roberta Steutermann, donor relationship manager with Metro United Way, said when she approached Hudson about chairing the Shelby County office, and he agreed, she was ecstatic.

“Bobby is such an amazing force in Shelby County,” she said. “He is so well-respected, and one of the areas that we have lost so much ground in the last few years has been in the industrial sector, what with all the job cuts and layoffs and the plant closings and everything that has happened throughout this recession. That’s one area that we need to grow some of our support and some of our strength back. And who better could help us do that than the [President] of the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation?”

Who better indeed?

Hudson has served as president of the Foundation for 41 years, since it was established in 1970, and during that time, he not only promoted industrial development but also worked hard to get industry to locate here.

Even though he retired as president of Commonwealth Bank and Trust after 42 years, he is still going strong in his role as head of the Industrial Foundation, a fact that Steutermann said she is counting on to boost sagging contributions this year.

“I’m delighted to be able to help the community,” Hudson said.

Executive director of the Foundation, Libby Adams, said she doesn’t see Hudson ever losing his determination to do whatever he can to bolster the economy of the county.

“He’s been active in community development and been a supporter of that his entire adult life,” she said.

Hudson said that’s only because he loves this county, where he was born and raised.

“This has been my town and my community all my life, and whatever I can do to help, I will,” he said. “They felt like I’ve got enough ties in the community that I could get in some doors that maybe someone else couldn’t.”

County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger called Hudson an “excellent choice” to head up the local UW campaign, for that very reason, among others.

“He will definitely be a perfect representative for the upcoming season, because he’s very well-respected and has numerous contacts throughout the community, not only in the business and industrial sector, but on the personal side, too,” he said. “Being president of Commonwealth Bank and Trust for many, many years, he’s developed such a close relationship with so many people in the community that I can assure you that it’s going to be a very successful campaign under his watch.”

Hudson said he has only been involved with the UW once, several years ago, and not to this extent. What he is excited about, he says, is that the money raised in the county will go to benefit local organizations.

“The thing I like most about the United Way is that if we collect one hundred dollars, then that one hundred dollars stays here,” he said.

He added that he and Steutermann plan to meet Monday to select a campaign committee.

“We will pick some people who we think will be able to really get out there and help me raise of lot of money,” he said.

Steutermann said that Hudson’s passion for his community really stood out to her when he agreed so readily to help the cause.

“Quite frankly, I thought it was going to take a lot more begging on my part to persuade him,” she said, with a chuckle. “He is a wonderful guy, and I’m so thrilled that he’s going to be working with us this year to make this our most successful campaign ever.”