The next person to sit in Bryan Quinseys office will probably have just one set of business cards.
Early in his term as the leader of Columbia Countys Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority, Quinsey aroused controversy when it was discovered that he carried two business cards: One depicting Quin-sey as representing Columbia County, the other with him representing Augusta.
Quinsey explained at the time, just over two years ago, that the Columbia County card was used locally; the Augusta card was for when he was out of town. Thats reasonable. Around town well tell people we live in, say, Grovetown or Evans; but when visiting elsewhere in the country - which a good economic-development person will do, often - we give the more-widely-recognized Augusta as our hometown.
The problem it created with Quinsey here at home, though, was that the two little pieces of paper reinforced the perception that Columbia County was not just sharing its Chamber director, but that the county was locked into a subservient relationship with Augusta. It didnt help that Quinsey was brought to Augusta by Jim West, for whom Quinsey had worked in a similar second-banana role in Kentucky.
Augusta Chamber Director West resigned in 2002, and was replaced by Ed Presnell. Recognizing the discomfort in the relationship between Augustas and Columbia Countys chambers, Presnell worked with Columbia County Chamber President Brett McGuire on a plan to give Columbia County greater autonomy.
McGuire filed the paperwork to incorporate Colum-bia Countys chamber, the first step toward setting up an entity separate from the Metro Augusta Chamber. Then Quinsey, who along with his dual business cards held twin roles as director of Columbia Countys Chamber and Development Authority, shifted exclusively to the economic development role.
Interviews are taking place for a new Columbia County Chamber director. And now Quinseys job is open, too; he announced last week that he is leaving to take over as the president and CEO of the Greene County Partnership in Greeneville, Tenn.
So whos left? Presnell is sort of new; Walter Sprouse Jr. starts mid-February as Richmond Countys economic developer, replacing Quinsey in the interim role hed also held since the departure of Kevin Shea. Columbia County will have to replace Quinsey on the Development Authority, and name a Chamber director.
Anyone hoping for a shakeup in our communitys Chamber of Commerce and economic development efforts has gotten their wish.
McGuire says when the new Columbia County Chamber executive director is hired, he - or she - will be no stranger. The Chamber board is committed to hiring a local face to take over the revamped operation. (I know of at least three locals who have applied, two men and a woman.)
We can also be sure that the new director will have just one business card, and his or her only allegiance will be to Columbia County.
And speaking of allegiance: It wouldnt be fair to bid Quinsey farewell without a parting mention of the alarming $2,000 donation he made last year to the re-election campaign of state Sen. Charles Walker.
The business-card thing annoyed a few Columbia Countians who overplayed the two-masters perception; but the donation really ticked people off because it went to a man who would do real harm to Columbia County.
Unexpectedly, Walker lost his re-election - and with it the ability to pay back Quinsey for his bad investment. Lets hope Quinsey got something more tangible than this queasy memory out of his experience in Columbia County.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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