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Chamber President Ralph Staffins, center, is shown here accepting an accreditation plaque from Moore Hallmark, left, executive director of the Southeastern Region of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while then-chairman Thomas Kephart looks on. The Chamber received the accreditation in December 2018.

COVINGTON — After five years leading the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, Ralph Staffins will step down as president May 31 to become president and chief executive officer of the Brunswick–Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce.

The CNCCC board of directors will support ongoing membership, economic development, tourism and Main Street programs in the event a replacement for Staffins — for which a search has commenced — is unsecured prior to his departure.

Prior to joining CNCCC, Staffins served as executive director for Forward McDuffie in McDuffie County and the city of Thomson.

Staffins, a native of Newton County, also served as economic development director and Chamber president for Wilkinson County and as special projects coordinator for the Regional Commission of Middle Georgia in Macon.

According to the Chamber, under Staffins’ guidance the CNCCC has achieved several milestones. Companies of diverse sizes and disciplines have relocated to and maintained business within the county, increasing job opportunities and revenues. During his tenure, Facebook purchased a large parcel of land in the eastern section of the county on which it is currently constructing a data center.

Furthermore, membership has grown 30% under Staffins and his team, and concerts, July 4 and Christmas events on the Square have reached record attendance.

“While difficult to say goodbye to a great leader for the Chamber and our community, this move for Ralph and his family is a part of a much bigger journey,” said Corey Consuegra, chair of the CNCCC board of directors. “His impact on new and existing business, and promoting commerce among an extremely active membership base, is greatly appreciated and lauded among the best in all of Georgia.”

Last year, the CNCCC was awarded the 4-Star Certification by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Only 3% of Chambers across America hold the designation.

“A goal of the incoming president will be to create a strong member value proposition, sense of business belonging and civic involvement, so this and future generations enjoy a healthy county economy,” said Eric Bour, vice chairman of the CNCCC board. “We will be prudent in appointing Ralph’s successor, an individual whose B2B and B2C connections will foster even greater relationships.”

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.