Albany Chamber names new president

Chris Hardy is the Albany Chamber of Commerce's new president and chief operating officer / Courtesy Albany Chamber

After a nationwide search and sorting through 50 applications, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce announced that Chris Hardy from Clemson, South Carolina, is their new president and chief operating officer. Currently he is the president and chief executive officer of the Clemson Area Chamber.

Hardy says he does not want to make many promises before he gets to Albany, but says the two promises he does want to make are to generate enthusiasm in the Chamber industry and business environment.

"I'm going to make sure that we as a chamber are proactive in how we go about being the voice of the business community," says Hardy.

He also says the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau in Albany, by his understanding, does a great job, but he says he wants to help take the CVB and Albany tourism to the next level.

"I'll just have to take a look at those once I get there and see how we can do things better and, one, operate more efficiently, but also how we can just work together and promote Albany to the visitors and create an economic impact through the tourism industry," says Hardy.

To attract more tourists he says he wants to work on improving the community's negative perception of the city, adding it could hurt Albany's tourism push.

"It's not the media's fault. The media's job is to promote the news that's good or bad," says Hardy. "What some of the things you can find on the Internet are public discussion forums that individuals are creating."

Hardy says overall he wants the Chamber, CVB and community to celebrate what Albany has to offer.

He says one reason he is leaving the Clemson area â" an area that he says serves 50,000 people â" and coming to Southwest Georgia is because of the reputation of Albany's Chamber of Commerce.

"Some of the things we look at as chamber executives is one the size of the chamber, the reputation of the chamber and both of those are second to none at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce," says Hardy.

Along with his energy, the Albany Chamber Board of Directors says they unanimously voted to hire Hardy based on his experience with tourism.

"Another important thing about him in comparison to some of the other candidates was the experience he has as being a director of a CVB. Not all chambers have a convention and visitors bureau associated with them," says Miles Espy, 2012 Chairman of the Board.

Hardy's first day in Albany is set for April 30. He will be relocating to Albany with his wife Paige.

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