ANGOLA — The Angola Area Chamber of Commerce will soon be searching for a new executive director after terminating Jeff Rhodes this week.

The Chamber announced Wednesday that Rhodes “will be seeking new opportunities,” a letter to Chamber members said.

Rhodes has served as the organization’s executive director since May 2017. His contract expired on May 31 and the chamber’s board on Tuesday voted to not renew, The Herald Republican was told.

“We are appreciative of the work Jeff has done on behalf of the Chamber along with his dedication to the organization,” said Kevin Rice, Chamber president and assistant vice president of The Farmers & Merchants State Bank, Angola. “We are looking forward to getting the search process underway for a new executive director.”

“First, let me thank each Chamber member and my adopted community for giving me this opportunity. I was graciously welcomed, encouraged and supported by so many people across the area. That speaks volumes to the reason my family and I decided to be here,” Rhodes said in a statement provided to The Herald Republican. “I am very proud for what I was able to accomplish. I helped usher in new leadership in marketing, brand identity, solid business practices along with the analytics that told us how well we were doing as a Chamber. There wasn’t a month that we didn’t see ourselves meeting or exceeding a goal. Maybe it was easier than it should have been but being an advocate for all of the great things we have to offer as a community was an absolute pleasure.”

Rhodes said he was told by Rice and chamber Vice President Candace Smith of his firing and was escorted from the chamber offices late Tuesday.

“As I packed up my personal affects, it was explained to me that when I was hired, it was an experiment to have hired someone with my background and experience. The net result was that the Board felt the experiment wasn’t successful,” Rhodes said.

“The board of directors chose not to renew the contract with Jeff and we’re in the process of starting the search for a new executive director,” Rice said in reaction to Rhodes’ comment.

The Chamber has gone through about seven executive directors over the past decade-plus.

In its letter to members, the Chamber said “The executive director position requires excellent interpersonal, communication and organizational skills in order to build lasting relationships to increase memberships in the Chamber.”

“We are always looking for a strong membership base,” Rice said, “a leader who can establish a personal rapport with prospective and current members can drive that growth.”

The Chamber of Commerce “is firmly committed to providing proactive leadership and value to the membership and the community through partnerships and advocacy; continually acknowledging and honoring those from the business community and organizations that work towards these goals,” the news letter said.

Inquiries about the position can be sent to Rice at krice@fm.bank.

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