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Chamber to interview president candidates soon
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Résumés are now being accepted for the next chamber president, and the search committee is reaching out to the group of 15 to 20 names they've collected over the past few months.

Since September, the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce has been without a president. A search committee headed by Chairman Jerry Mays has had numerous conversations about the skills and experience the next president should have and is poised to begin interviewing candidates soon, possibly by the beginning of February.

"The goal is to find someone as soon as possible. This thing has picked up and we're going to meet weekly until a president is hired," Mays said.
The committee began meeting on a weekly basis two weeks ago and Mays said they laid out the hiring process and discussed some internal timetables.

After Friday's latest meeting, Mays said the committee had gathered 15 to 20 candidates that they will be contacting this week to gauge interest in the position. The names were gathered by talking to local business leaders as well as several state economic development officials.

Mays said the committee placed an emphasis on strong economic development experience, but they also want someone with previous chamber experience. There are local candidates as well as candidates from outside Georgia, though the majority of candidates are in-state residents.

If anyone is interested in applying for the position they should send their résumé to chamber Office Manager Sherry Dudley at and put "chamber president position" in the subject line.

Over the past five months the search committee has been having numerous conversations with business leaders, elected officials and state economic development leaders. Both the City of Covington and Newton County voted to more than double their spending on the chamber to bring in an experienced president and boost economic development.

Their combined spending increased from $108,000 to $241,000. The chamber's 575 member businesses contribute $432,000 annually to the chamber. The FY 2011 chamber budget is expected to be $673,000.
The most recent proposal called for the chamber president's salary to increase from $94,000 to $125,000 with extra bonuses. Mays said the search committee is still discussing the potential benefits package and other similar details.

Former President John Boothby resigned Sept. 15 after three and a half years in the position. He said at the time he was looking forward to spending more time with his fiancé and exploring other fields, such as consulting.

Rumors have surrounded Boothby's resignation, but former Chairman Joe Stier addressed those at the Dec. 7 Covington City Council meeting.

"I wanted to clarify his resignation was not the result of any one event or any one person's opinion about what may have been or may not have been going on. And out of respect for John I won't go into a lot of details about that, but is it important to note there were a lot of, what I would call, moving parts in relation to his role as president of the chamber that ultimately resulted in his decision to resign," Stier said.