Andy Kingery took a shot a running Columbia County last year, but lost the race for the county chairmanship.
Now he has a consolation prize: Kingery has stepped in to serve as interim director of the countys Chamber of Commerce while a search committee continues seeking a permanent leader.
Its not that any of the applicants for the post are being rejected, says Mark Wills, chairman of the Chamber board. The search committee would simply like to attract more applicants to consider.
Patience, as Wills counsels, is vital. It was only last year that the Columbia County Chamber was incorporated as a separate entity, still cooperative with the Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce yet enabled to stand on its own. Whoever fills the executive director post must be able to sell the concept to enough new businesses so that membership dues can support the directors salary.
In effect, the new leader will have to pay for him or herself.
Kingery, a long-time Chamber volunteer, is performing a badly needed service while the search continues. It would be tougher to fill the new post as a blank slate Wills says; Kingery will be able to give the search committee a better idea of the jobs day-to-day needs.
It helps, too, that Kingery isnt applying. If it lasts for two weeks or two months, it is no problem, says Kingery, a retired banker. They dont have to worry about a severance package or hard feelings because Im just an interim guy.
If the more-independent Chamber concept is to succeed, its going to need willing volunteers like Kingery. And even after a permanent replacement is found, the Chamber will continue to need new members willing to fund that independence.
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