Dirmann grew up in Covington, La. He moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU and stayed ever since. He got his law degree at Southern University Law Center.

The Ascension Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barker Dirmann may appear kind of young at 32 to hold such a title. But on the other hand maybe he is just what the Ascension Parish economy needs.

Dirmann began his position just over three months ago.

"March 12 was my first day," Dirmann said. "I was working for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, which is the regional chamber for the Capital Region. They wanted to know if I was interested. I applied, and went through the interview process."

The President's position is full-time. Dirmann went to school for law, but his career has gone in another direction.

"I am a licensed attorney, but I've never practiced law," he said. "I went to work for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber a week after I took the bar exam. I was their Manager of Governmental Affairs and Special Projects. Whenever you take the bar, you never feel confident that you passed, so I figured I'd better get a job where I didn't need to be an attorney. Two months later I found out I passed the bar, but I loved what I was doing at BRAC, so I never felt the need to go into a practice."

Dirmann grew up in Covington, La. He moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU and stayed ever since. He got his law degree at Southern University Law Center.

"The plan is to move to Ascension in the near future," he said. "My wife and I and our 16-month-old son are in Baton Rouge still. My wife said she can get into Ascension, so we're looking at houses. Just taking our time before we make a decision."

Shannon Dirmann, Barker's wife is an attorney for the Louisiana Sheriff's Association.

"She handles in-house legal issues and also does a lot of legislative affairs for the association," he said.

Some people do not understand the purpose of a chamber of commerce. In that case, the mission statement of the Ascension Chamber is to "Foster economic growth for our members," Dirmann explained.

The Ascension Chamber boasts 530 member businesses on their website, www.ascensionchamber.com, and they represent a wide variety of businesses.

"Obviously, we have a diverse membership--single employment companies to major companies like BASF that have more than a thousand employees," he said. "The strategies to foster economic growth for those members is different. For a smaller business the networking opportunities that we provide as a chamber, whether it's our monthly luncheons for membership or business after hours, different events that we have that are specifically set up for networking, our smaller businesses will get more out of that.

"Whereas the larger business like a BASF or something that's more on a corporation level, they'll see more opportunity for community initiatives. You know, trying to increase the quality of life here in Ascension or government advocacy efforts whether its at a local level or at a state level on different issues that are important to economic development."

Moreover, the Ascension Chamber holds roughly three networking events each month. Dirmann says July is the slowest month, so they may not always hold a monthly lunch that month. The monthly lunch is typically held at the Clarion Inn, but they are looking into holding more events in the northern part of the parish.

The chamber dates back to the 1940s. Dirmann said it was once the Gonzales Chamber, but as the parish grew outside the city limits, they saw the need to grow. The name change probably occurred in the early 90s.

Membership cost to the chamber depends on the size of a business staff. Businesses with one to four employees costs under $200 for the year, with an additional fee to post your company website to their website. Dirmann also mentioned the benefits of email blasts, social media exposure, and sponsorship opportunities for chamber members.

Dirmann added that BRAC has 1,200 to 1,500 members, but the Ascension Chamber, with over 500 members is no small feat.

"What Sherrie Despino was able to do as previous president, I mean she grew membership exponentially," he said. "She grew this chamber in what it needs to be. I mean we are the fastest growing parish in the State of Louisiana, so I think that our chamber membership should reflect that."

Furthermore, Dirmann considers the Ascension Chamber a parish-wide chamber, and that means including Donaldsonville.

"Donaldsonville has their own chamber of commerce, so we don't want to step on their toes in the representation of their businesses, but it's my goal and it's my view--I mean we are a parish-wide chamber of commerce, so I want to use Donaldsonville's chamber as a partner.

"We want to be able to support them in any efforts that they have with their businesses on that side, and I want to be able to support Donaldsonville businesses as well, from a parish-wide standpoint. We're certainly open to open up partnerships with those guys and do whatever we can to make the west side of the river as good as it can be."

Leadership Ascension is another focus of the Ascension Chamber. He said the program is a great way for emerging business leaders to get to know the parish. It is over 20 years old. It lasts eight months and 30-35 people participate. Overall, it is a service opportunity.

"It is selective," Dirmann said. "We don't just take everybody that applies, but we certainly promote that to all our members."

Dirmann added that if the chamber is the voice of the parish, that he wished to get a little louder. He spoke about raising money towards parks and education initiatives.

Moreover, Dirmann said he loves to hunt and fish. But sports in general is his thing. Additionally, he gave up a baseball spot at Southeastern to go to LSU. He also likes a scenic bike ride, which he said is tough to achieve nearby.

Lastly, he and Shannon have been married three years. There son's name is Bates, but not like the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie "Psycho."

"My first name is my grandmother's maiden name," he said. "We kind of wanted to keep that tradition going, so we skipped a generation or two. That is my wife's maiden name, Bates . . . We were blessed with a great kid."

When asked what he wants on his tombstone, he replied, "Barker was a servant of God and to his family."