The Desloge Chamber of Commerce is going to be undergoing some significant changes in the near future after it was learned at Tuesday’s monthly luncheon that Sandy Francis has submitted her resignation as the organization’s executive director.

Following the swearing in of Brenda Jordan as new president of the chamber’s board of directors, board member Todd Mahaney announced Francis’ decision to leave her position effective Jan. 15.

“It has not been released a whole lot yet, but I am sad to announce that Sandy Francis, our executive director, is not going to be with us after this meeting anymore,” Mahaney said. “She has decided that there are some other opportunities that have been made available to her. Unfortunately, to run a chamber, you kind of have to have an entrepreneurial spirit, which means we’ve had a lot of entrepreneurial spirits wanting to be entrepreneurial. We absolutely understand that and get it.

“Sandy has been with us now for about a year-and-a-half and has weathered some amazing storms, had one of the most productive Labor Day picnics that we’ve ever had, has made it through several events, has really helped us grow and kind of go into a different light and different direction. I would like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the board of directors for what you have done for us. It does mean a great deal to us.”

Mahaney admitted that making a change in direction will inevitably involve the chamber experiencing growing pains.

“They said that life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” he said. “It’s true for Sandy — she’s stepping out into something new and kind of scary. For the chamber it’s the same thing. We’re going to be stepping into a new period of growth. It may be in a different area. It may not be better or worse, but it is going to be different and we’re going to have to go through that, so we appreciate and ask for your patience as we do that. But then, this is also a good time to make some changes as far as what do you want to see, how do you want to see it, how do you want this to act?

“These are good times to shake it up and we also need a new executive director to help do that. If you know anyone that’s available, if you have any candidates you think would be a good recommendation to us, or anyone you’ve interviewed recently. Maybe they didn’t fit your position perfectly, but you think they’d really be good for that, please see one of the board members and let us know in the near future. We do have a couple of applicants that we’ve spoken with, but nothing firm yet. This has really only been three or four business days. It came about last Wednesday. We want your input on it. We want your help on it.”

Mahaney also announced that there are several vacancies on the board that need to be filled. Several nominations were received from the floor that Mahaney said will be taken into consideration.

Featured speaker at the luncheon was St. Francois County Industrial Development Authority member Al Sullivan who explained that the concept of industrial development has been enlarged in recent years from individual towns or communities to a more regional focus.

Sullivan said the IDA covers four area counties in the realization that each one can provide different advantages for industries considering moving their operations to the region.

He also noted that the IDA doesn’t approach counties or towns about what the authority can do for them.

“We don’t go to somebody like Desloge City Administrator Greg Camp and say, ‘Here’s what we can do for you — this is what we can offer you,’” Sullivan said. “They have to come to us and express their interest in working with us.”

He added that neither Desloge or Farmington have requested help from the IDA, but that the organization isn’t concerned or upset about that.

“We have plenty to do with what we have already,” he said. “If they should ever come to us we’ll be glad to help, but they’ll have to come to us.”

Next month’s chamber luncheon will be held at noon Feb. 2 at city hall. Featured speaker will be Brian Crouse of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. According to Francis, Crouse will give investors a presentation on ways local chambers of commerce and area businesses can provide relevant and meaningful partnerships to local K-12 schools.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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