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Chamber president leaving

By Ed Brock

Looking out the window of his new office on a cloudy day, Clayton County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shane Moody already has a Florida beach on his mind.

Next week Moody, 41, will officially step down as chamber president, just about three weeks after realizing his goal of moving the chamber's offices closer to the center of the county.

"As soon as I got the president's job (two years ago) we started discussing it," Moody said about the move. "This is a wonderful last task for me to have accomplished."

By the end of December Moody and his wife will leave Clayton County behind and on Jan. 5 he will begin his new job as president and CEO of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce in Florida's panhandle. This has been his goal since he left his native Greenville, S.C. for Clayton County in 1998.

"Chamber work is a joy," Moody said. "To be able to do it in a place I've always wanted to be is the ultimate."

Even Moody's teen-age daughter from his first marriage, who lives with her mother in Charleston, won't mind the fact that her father will be moving.

"She loves the beach as much as I do," Moody said.

During his two-year tenure one of the most controversial moves was the chamber calling for some key School Board members to resign. Supporters of board chairwoman Nedra Ware held a press conference at the chamber office to blast this move.

Moody said his decision to leave the county for greener pastures had nothing to do with this controversy.

"Anybody who really knows me would say I've been moving in this direction since I've been here," Moody said.

Moody and the rest of the chamber employees are still unpacking boxes at their new office in Meridian Park office center on Mt. Zion Road. The move from the former office in Georgia International Tradeport near Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport is one that needed to be made, Moody said. Incoming chamber Chairman Pete Meadows said he's excited about the move.

"One of the things we wanted to do was get more visibility and relocate back in the county," Meadows said.

Now Moody has a challenge for former chamber members who left the chamber because it was located so far away.

"We listened to them, we moved back, now it's time for them to become part of the chamber again," Moody said.

Along with the move to the new office, Moody said he is most proud of the growth he's overseen in the Leadership Clayton program, the switch to entertainment instead of key note speakers at the annual banquet and the creation of the Business to Business educational luncheons.

He'll miss some of the professional and personal relationships he's built here, especially with other chamber presidents, but Moody said he hopes the county government will make better economic development decisions in the future.

That means more businesses that create jobs and broaden the tax base, Moody said.

"When all you do is build apartments, convenience stores and $100,000 homes you've done nothing to help your economic position," Moody said.

Moody said the question is how many jobs have you created versus how many have you lost.

"And people look at the chamber and want to know why (there are less jobs)," Moody said. "And we can't answer that because we're not involved in the process."

The chamber will post the opening for Moody's job on state, national and local Web sites. In the interim the chamber's chairwoman Cathy Gauder will serve as president.

"Shane's been a great president for the chamber and we wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor," Gauder said.