In context: Three years ago Monday, on Oct. 18, 2018, it was announced that Al Hodge, the Rome Floyd Chamber’s president and chief executive officer during 21 years of growth, would be leaving the following spring. Billed as a retirement, the chamber was to undergo a forced separation with economic development spinning off to much of what it was when Hodge was hired to unite the community’s industrial and business interests.
Hodge was gone by January and Jeanne Krueger was named interim president and CEO. The interim title was removed that summer and she’s served since then in one of the most difficult positions in the business sector. As planned, economic development spun off while the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association became part of a custody battle between the two groups, with GREIA emerging as a more powerful entity still under the chamber’s wing.
Replacing Hodge was difficult enough, given his expertise and access to state, national and international leaders. The chamber/economic development breakup likewise split chamber membership, in part because little was done by the board to stop the push from city and county leaders at a cost of $450,000 a year.
It became Krueger’s job to present a united front, especially when dealing with local governments and key business leaders. She’s done so, perhaps exceeding expectations. Krueger guided the chamber through the transition and into a new phase, all the while balancing unexpected pressures from the pandemic.
She leaves Nov. 12 and a new search will begin.
The Rome Floyd Chamber announces Jeanne Krueger’s decision to step down from her post as President and CEO effective Nov. 12. Pam Powers-Smith will serve as interim president/CEO until a replacement is named. Powers-Smith led the Opelika, Ala., Chamber of Commerce before joining the Rome-Floyd Chamber in March 2020.
Says Krueger in a media release: “When I stepped into this role, I wanted to hire a great team to take on the important work of advocating for our business members in Rome and Floyd County, to make sure the Chamber remained relevant in serving our membership, to grow the Chamber membership both in diversity and numbers, and to make sure we, the organization, had the necessary resources to accomplish the work of the Chamber, and now these items have been accomplished.
“I now enter a different season in my life where I will focus on my family.”
According to the media release:
Under Krueger’s leadership since July 2019, the Chamber membership has grown to over 1,000 members, the first Diversity and Inclusion program has been put into place, and a strategic plan centered around workforce development has been implemented.
Chamber chair Cassandra Wheeler said, “We are excited for Jeanne as she enters this new season of her life. While we will certainly miss her at the Chamber, I can’t say enough about her successes over the past two years. Jeanne is clearly responsible for rebranding the Chamber as she led the organization through a challenging transition and then a pandemic. I sincerely wish her all the best.”
Executive Committee Member Jarrod “JJ” Johnson said. “Five years ago, when I bought Smoothie King in Rome, Georgia. I did not know a soul. Jeanne Krueger was very instrumental in changing that. She has been the steadfast rock of the Chamber and the ultimate cheerleader for small business.”
From Hometown’s archives:
Krueger was named interim president and CEO in January 2019 as Al Hodge left after 21 years.
From 2019: Krueger is a native Roman, a graduate of West Rome High School and Shorter College, and resides with her husband of 32 years, Mark. Her daughter Shelby is a teacher at Unity Christian School and her son Anderson is a senior at Kennesaw State University.
She brings with her 25 years of Chamber experience, most of which were spent as a consultant with the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Krueger has been the Director of Membership at the Rome Floyd Chamber for the last three years after having previously served as Membership Development Manager.
Membership has thrived under her direction, and her familiarity with those members and the day-to-day happenings at the Chamber will allow for a smooth transition for the current staff and everyone involved with the chamber.
About the interim president, CEO:
In March 2020, Pam Powers-Smith was hired to “serve as the community’s contact for existing businesses and industries in the area” as the Director of Business and Industry Services. She had been president and chief executive officer of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce in Alabama.
A graduate of Auburn University, Powers-Smith began her career in the economic development / chamber of commerce world in 1998 as communications coordinator for the Auburn/Opelika Tourism Bureau. In 2002 she opened her own photo business in Opelika which she held ownership of until 2016. In 2011, Powers-Smith was named director of Opelika’s Main Street program which was followed by the chamber leadership role in 2016.