Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce president resigns

cgrant@macon.comSeptember 29, 2011 

Ed Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce, is resigning from his position to lead another Southeastern chamber.

Rodriguez will be the new president and CEO of the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce, located in Gulf Shores, Ala. He will leave the Robins chamber, where he has served for four years, on Oct. 28.

“It’s a terrific opportunity that was presented to me,” he said of the Alabama chamber, which covers several oceanfront communities. “I’m looking forward to the challenges of helping a chamber that has a lot of dreams.”

The region is still recovering from the oil spill of April 2010, but the new location will allow Rodriguez to return to his roots both professionally -- he has a background in tourism development -- and personally.

Before coming to Warner Robins, Rodriguez served as CEO of his hometown Amelia Island chamber in Amelia Island, Fla., and was then president and a founding partner of Chamber Resources, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing and membership development for more than 200 chambers of commerce in 12 states. He has also worked in Miami and Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I’ve always said Ed Rodriguez is the Energizer Bunny of Warner Robins,” said Mary Therese Tebbe, executive director of the 21st Century Partnership, pinpointing his work preparing to present Robins Air Force Base as a finalist for the MC-12W program last year. “He has really energized the business community and shed light on how this community can really move forward.”

While he is excited for the future, Rodriguez said his departure is bittersweet.

“I love this chamber here and will miss it and the people,” he said. “I will also miss the welcoming and open nature of this place,” he said. I’ve lived in several places, and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place where an outsider is welcomed as quickly as here.”

In a message to chamber members Wednesday, Rodriguez highlighted several chamber accomplishments over the past four years, including enhancing governmental affairs efforts, finalizing the development of a regional brand and a chamber re-branding and launching a new nonprofit educational foundation.

“Ed has faithfully and with great commitment represented and served the Robins Region for the past four years,” John Howell, chairman of the chamber wrote in a letter. “We wish Ed all the best and we thank him for his leadership in our organization.”

Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen said Rodriguez came to Middle Georgia at a critical time economically. He has been instrumental in keeping a stable economy by “building up the chamber and promoting the small businesses that are the backbone of our city.”

With a month left on the job, Rodriguez is still ready to lead the Robins Regional chamber in its upcoming events, such as the fourth annual Middle Georgia Regional Political HobNob on Oct. 20, where residents have the opportunity to hear from political candidates.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re excited.”

In the coming weeks, the Robins Regional chamber board will announce its search process to fill Rodriguez’s position.

To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.

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