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Our View: Chamber of commerce is important to community

Last month, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce named Kathy Tilley its interim director as it embarks on a search for a new, full-time director.

We have no doubt that Tilley, who serves as the executive director of the Troup County Center for Strategic Planning, will be a capable leader in this new role and appreciate her stepping up to fill the void left by the departure of Page Estes.

Regardless of why Estes resigned, it’s clear she was a very good chamber director, who played a large role in leading Troup County as a whole to new heights.

She was the sounding board for hundreds of local organizations and stood strong for what she believed in.

The chamber has been in a bit of flux recently and at last check was down to only a couple of full-time employees. However, this community has had a very strong chamber of commerce for years, and it’s important that remains the case.

The chamber plays a role in hosting candidate forums during election season, works with retail strategy groups to entice new business to come to our communities and until recently oversaw the City of LaGrange’s tourism funding. And that’s just a small part of its role in Troup County.

Speaking of tourism funding, the city of LaGrange elected to go a different route with its tourism funding last month, choosing to nominate its own board to oversee tourism dollars. No official reason has been given, but it’s not a stretch to see why the public might assume the tourism decision had something to do with the leadership change.

Dale Jackson, who is overseeing the search for a new, full-time director, said that he wants the search to model the Troup County School System’s search, which was nationwide and lasted for more than half the school year.

That search was extremely complex, involved a search firm and really gave the community an opportunity a chance to chime in. Jackson plans to focus on the community outreach portion of the search, which can only be a positive. The more the community is bought into the search, the better.

Until then, Tilley will lead the chamber as it holds its first public event — next Tuesday’s Early Bird Breakfast — since the leadership change. We look forward to working with her as the chamber works to find a full-time director.