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Community leader moving on

After more than four years as Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamberof Commerce Executive Vice President, Chandler Russ is leaving toaccept a similar economic development position with the TennesseeValley Authority in Tupelo.

Russ said his last day with the chamber will be Oct. 15 and hewill report to his new job Oct. 18. As economic developmentspecialist for the TVA, Russ will be responsible for industrialrecruitment, economic and community development activities for thenortheast Mississippi area and stretching southward into RankinCounty.

“It’s a lot of same type of things I’m doing now, except with alarger region,” Russ said.

Russ, 33, informed the chamber’s board of directors of hisdecision Wednesday morning. He said his telephone rang “a bunch”the rest of the day as news of his departure spread.

“First and foremost, Brookhaven is a wonderful place, and it wasnot an easy decision,” Russ said. “It’s something my family and Idiscussed and prayed about for a two-week period.”

In the end, Russ said the family decided the move was in thebest long-term interests for him, his wife, Sarah, and their son,Jack.

“It’s by far some of the best people I’ve met in my life,” Russsaid of Brookhaven’s population. “I should be as lucky to meet asgood a people in my new capacity.”

Regarding a replacement for Russ, 2004 chamber President KennyGoza said there is no timetable for a decision.

“We want somebody soon, but we’re not going to be in a hurry,”Goza said. “We want the right person.”

Goza said Steve Kelly, community development manager forEntergy, and other economic development officials have been askedto assist in the search. City and county officials will also becontacted for their input, Goza said.

Kelly said Entergy assisted in the search that brought Russ toBrookhaven. He expected similar assistance with the new search.

“We can do as much or as little as they want us to do,” Kellysaid, citing providing help with the job description, announcementand screening of applicants. “(Who is hired) will be up to thecommittee, but we can help screen.”

Goza said the salary for the new executive vice president hasnot been determined.

Russ came to Brookhaven in March 2000. He is the fourthexecutive vice president that executive secretary Pam Cartwrighthas worked with in her more than 30 years with the chamber.

“I don’t want him to leave,” Cartwright said.

Goza acknowledged Russ’ contribution to the chamber and theBrookhaven-Lincoln County area.

“Chandler’s done an outstanding job,” Goza said. “He has beenvery good for our community.”

Russ said he had been pleased to work with some greatpresidents, other chamber officials and the many volunteers whohave helped get things done for the chamber.

Among accomplishments Russ mentioned were a renewed focus oneconomic development and recruitment. He also touted expansions atseveral local industries as well as new additions.

“I’m also proud to see our commercial sector see significantgrowth over the last two to three years,” said Russ, adding that hethought the community was well-positioned for new growth in thefuture.

On the industrial side, Russ said a new industrial park remainsthe foremost challenge for community officials. A site for the parkhas been chosen, and city and county officials are working onfunding plans for the development.

“It has the potential for the greatest benefit,” Russ said.”Without it, it becomes the greatest hindrance to growth.”