By Dixon Hayes
GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) - After 18 years, Gadsden's longtime Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Quinn is stepping down.
Friday Quinn held a news conference announcing his last day of work will be in August 2011. The Chamber's board hopes to appoint a replacement by April so he or she will work with Quinn for awhile before taking over.
Quinn says he would like to spend time with his wife and grandchildren, and also acknowledged his series of health problems in recent years, including a heart attack.
During Quinn's tenure in the Gadsden Area Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber made two seperate efforts to recruit retirees to Etowah County. Quinn also oversaw the rapid growth of the annual Riverfest food and music festival into the area's biggest annual event. And during his time, the Chamber reached out to Etowah County's other cities, even at one point forming committees representing each of the cities (Attalla, Rainbow City, Glencoe, etc.).
Quinn admits he also saw his share of challenges, including the closing of the Gulf States Steel plant in 2000 and the near-closing of the Goodyear plant in 1997 (before Goodyear reversed course amid the Ford Explorer tire controversy). He also says the recession of the last two years was a challenge as well.
Prior to coming to Gadsden, Quinn worked at other chambers in Anniston and in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which landed the Saturn plant during his time there. That plant has since closed during a GM restructuring.
Quinn says he has not decided whether to be one of the very retirees who is being sought out by his own chamber, pointing out that many of his children and grandchildren live in Tennessee.
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