Holland Chamber President Steps Down

September 16, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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HOLLAND — Chris Byrnes, president of the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce, announced today that he is resigning from his leadership responsibilities with the organization to pursue private ventures.

Byrnes assumed the chamber’s top spot in 2000, following the retirement of long-time chamber president Lou Hallacy, and said leaving the job was not an easy decision.

“It’s not easy to step away from my duties with the chamber, as I’ve enjoyed both the people and the values associated with the chamber,” said Byrnes.

“It’s just that my passion for assisting specific economic development projects has grown immeasurably. I leave with many doors of opportunity wide open and I’m excited to be able to work more directly alongside dynamic and innovative business leaders, whether they are in the private or public sectors.”

Marcia Bishop, chairwoman of the chamber board of directors, accepted Byrnes’ resignation with regret but not surprise, she said.

“There are some strategic redirections in the works. Nearly all of the chamber’s current programming will continue, for example, but the chamber along with HEDCOR (The Holland Economic Development Corp.) have helped plant the seeds for the eventual creation of a new economic development organization for our community,” she noted.

“Given Chris’s enthusiasm and skill in the economic development arena, it only seems fitting for him to pursue a course which would keep him more connected to the area he loves. Our chamber will miss his drive and dedication. Chris helped keep our chamber moving forward.”

Byrnes served in the dual role of president for both the Holland Area Chamber and HEDCOR. During his tenure, the chamber expanded its collaboration with a number of community organizations, including area governmental units, school districts, the West Michigan Strategic Alliance and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.

The Lakeshore 504 loan program also mushroomed under Byrnes’ direction, which provided additional benefit and support for new business development and expansion by better utilization of federally funded Small Business Administration initiatives.

Jane Clark, currently the chamber’s vice president, has been tapped to serve as the organization’s interim president by the board’s executive committee until a successor to Byrnes is found. Clark has been with the chamber since 1989, when she began as membership director. She was named to her present position at the chamber three years ago.

“The executive committee has great confidence in Jane,” said Bishop. “Her experience is deep and she will ensure that our rock solid and service-oriented chamber team remains effective. We couldn’t ask for a better interim president.”           

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