Busby taking over as CCDA director

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

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Last week, Chambers County Development Authority Director Valerie Gray officially retired after 25 years of bringing businesses and jobs into the community. After eight years working under her, Deputy Director Chris Busby will be stepping into Gray’s shoes.

Though he has spent years as deputy director, he felt the enormity of the shoes he would be stepping into.

“There’s a lot of feelings and a lot of pride and gratitude to our board and to the community for the support,” Busby said.

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As he takes up the mantle, Busby plans to take an active approach to economic and community development.

“I’m not a big believer in being reactive. I believe we should be proactive,” he said.

Busby, a native of LaFayette, began working at the CCDA in 2015 after discovering the community impact of Gray and the CCDA during his time at the LaFayette Sun. 

As a reporter for a local newspaper, Busby learned how the CCDA stimulated economic development and brought jobs to citizens. He decided it was time to be more proactive in helping his community.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to grow and give back to my community in a different way,” he said.

Since joining the team, Busby has learned a lot about the best practices for helping the county’s economy and making a name for itself on the county, state and federal level. Busby said he gained valuable experience from Gray on “the right way to do things.”

“The good thing about a small town is that you can have an impact that is so grand that it can really impact people’s lives in a very tangible and measurable way,” Busby said.

Busby lauded the CCDA under Gray’s leadership as having gained a reputation for honesty, accuracy and accountability with businesses and the community as a whole. In his term as director, he hopes to continue ensuring the CCDA remains a “top-notch organization.” 

“You’re coming in behind a legend so there’s a lot of pressure that comes with that — wanting to continue the great work that she has done and to carry on that mantle,” Busby said.

He said the CCDA staff, business leaders and community members are a big part of operating successfully. Busby said the hard work that Gray and her staff have put in doesn’t always get noticed. Most projects take years and a lot of manpower to complete. 

“There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes,” Busby said. 

He also said that everyone in the development authority cares about the community and wants to see it thrive.

“We’re all from Chambers County,” he said.

As he begins his time as director, Busby wants to continue fostering the county’s existing industry. One way that he plans to do this is by building the local workforce and focusing on supply chain and product development. 

Infrastructure on a residential, commercial and retail level is going to continue to be an important piece of developing economic and residential population growth, Busby said. 

“We want to make sure that the infrastructure is in place to sustain them,” he said. 

Though the CCDA can always be counted on to aim for the best upcoming projects, Busby said he also wants to ensure the businesses that come into the community make a positive impact. 

“When we do things, we do things the right way,” he said.

Busby thanked the board of directors, local leadership, elected officials and the CCDA staff for all their support during this transition. He also thanked Gray for her guidance, mentorship and hard work over the years. 

“One of the many great things [about Gray] is that I know that she’s a phone call away,” Busby said. “I know that if I have a question, need advice, need guidance — I can pick up the phone, and even though she’s retired, she’ll give me the answers because she still has the best interest of this community.”