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Eddie Brown wears many hats.

Entrepreneur, musician, community advocate — and there's a whole lot more.

Many hats, many roles.

But his focus now is on helping the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce add new memberships and grow, increasing the clout of a business-oriented organization that has become a key partner in spurring Lincoln's recent spurt of development and growth.

"I'm immersed in our community," Brown says.  

"There are a lot of balls I'm juggling, but the Chamber is a mainstay."

Brown's business card at the Chamber says "investor relations," and that translates into recruiting "new members and businesses who want to invest in our community" by participating in what he describes as the largest business organization in the city.

Approaching 1,800 members and counting, Brown says, and he's already been active in helping spur its growth as a chair of the organization's ambassadors council.

"There's not a business or organization in any part of town that I don't feel comfortable in," he said during an interview at the Chamber's headquarters, perched along Lincoln Mall between the State Capitol and City Hall.

Brown points to the dreadlocks; not an issue, he says, they are part of who he is. And they remain. 

Brown says he's all Lincoln: lived here since he was 5 after the move from Chicago; a student at Goodrich Middle School, Lincoln High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned a business degree.

"This is my community," Brown says. "Lincoln molded me."

And he has been immersed in his city, developing a custom clothing business — Vicente — working in a number of business settings, participating in Tom Osborne's TeamMates Mentoring program, the Nebraska Alumni Association, the University of Nebraska Foundation.

"Music is my passion," Brown says.

The 402 Band was created by Brown, its lead singer and manager, who earlier performed as part of the D*Funk Band.  The 402 plays at a number of venues, including weddings and private parties. 

When he was asked to join the Chamber staff, Brown said, he "thought about it and prayed about it" — he counts church, along with community, as a fundamental part of his life — and then he said yes.

"There's no negative about it," he says. "I already considered them family."

When Brown was hired in 2017, Lincoln Chamber President Wendy Birdsall said he was "a natural fit, as networking and partnering with the business community is second nature to him."

Birdsall pointed to Brown's diverse engagement in insurance and clothing sales along with retail management and banking.

His new job is "like a coach recruiting football players," Brown says. "It's just cool; it's a very cool gig."

Brown is excited about Lincoln's future as well as what already has been building and growing and accelerating now, pointing to Hudl and the impact of its new headquarters building in the Haymarket as what is and what can be.

"My mom is my hero," Brown says. "My mom gave me that drive. She taught me how to take the lemons and make lemonade."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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