The Paulding County Chamber of Commerce announced the appointment of Stacy Hamby as their new president. Hamby comes to the job with over 11 years of Chamber experience and will assume responsibilities on Dec. 15.

Christine Mullinax, 2016 Paulding Chamber Board Chair, said, "... We view her appointment as a sign of our commitment to Chamber members and Paulding County. It is very fortunate that we were able to find someone of Stacy's caliber to fulfill this role."

Hamby takes over from predecessor Carolyn Wright, who retired earlier this year. She will face challenges in Paulding's current business climate that stifled Wright through her last year.

During her tenure Wright worked to increase revenues while establishing the Chamber budget apart from any government funding. She managed to increase the budget by 50 percent over her years served, while decreasing funds from the IBA down to its current zero dollars.

Wright also obtained private funding for Paulding's Economic Development Organization, which has been supported by the Chamber, together with additional funding coming from the county and the city of Dallas. Hiram has opted to instead support a downtown business association.

Wright said on exiting the job she'd like to see the Chamber and the Economic Development Organization retain their respective roles in the future and partner side-by-side, rather than overlap functions.

"The Chamber works on helping the businesses that are here to help them grow, the EDO works on bringing jobs to Paulding and helping with any infrastructure needs with existing businesses and they partner, but that's been a struggle ever since the EDO was established," Wright said.

Hamby, contacted by

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phone, said she looked forward to meeting with Paulding EDO Director Robert Reynolds hopefully before the end of the year.

"A partnership is good. The stronger team you have to not only work with our current businesses but use in facilitating new businesses the better," Hamby said.

During Wright's third year Paulding's progress was stunted by bigger economic problems made even worse with the building industry hit hard.

Over the last year Chamber operations have undergone some additional belt tightening, and economic development slowed considerably.

Hamby said her focus initially would remain largely on the Chamber's established membership.

"We want to focus on business retention and expansion for those businesses that are already here in the community; we've got close to 700 members now and I think it's important that we look at what their needs are and what's inhibiting their growth and development. Obviously, the more successful our businesses are that are already here, the better and easier it is to keep jobs in Paulding County," Hamby said.

Hamby added that she'd like to ultimately make a dent in the approximately 70 percent of residents who still live in the county, but work elsewhere.

Paulding's Chamber of Commerce has been serving Paulding County since 1961, and has added several new programs including a "Grow Paulding, Buy Local" initiative, new industry specific alliances, a tourism council and quarterly educational seminars that are scheduled to roll out in 2017.

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