In his 10-year career in economic development - the past four in Paducah - Chad Chancellor has worked with a lot of entrepreneurs. Now he hopes to become one himself.
Chancellor resigned as president/CEO of Paducah Economic Development during a PED board meeting Monday night to start his own business. His resignation is effective Sept. 16.
"To be honest, I've always wanted to own my own business, but I've never taken that step," Chancellor said. "It's always been in the back of my mind."
Chancellor, 32, started his economic development career with the Mobile, Alabama, chamber of commerce. Prior to coming to Paducah, he worked in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
Chancellor said he will "form some sort of company to continue to focus on jobs in the South," although his plans are not finalized. "After doing the same thing every day for 10 years, facing the same issues, at this time in my life I just want to do it from the private side and not the public side," he said.
Local officials are sorry to see him go.
"I think his record speaks for itself," said PED board chairman Ken Hunt. "He's done an excellent job."
The effort to find a replacement will begin right away with the formation of a search committee, much like the process used to hire Chancellor four years ago, said Hunt.
"Obviously, we made a pretty good choice last time," Hunt said. "We're not going to try to reinvent the wheel. The key is not to just get a warm body. We know what economic development looks like now and we know what to look for."
Sandra Wilson, president of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, is also a PED board member. She was PED board chairwoman four years ago when Chancellor was selected.
"I remember calling people in Tennessee for a reference. They were not surprised he was leaving them (at that point in his career) and were very complimentary," Wilson said, indicating the board feels the same way now. "He's definitely leaving the community better off."
Mayor Gayle Kaler echoed those sentiments. "I don't think it's really a surprise that he wants to start his own business," she said. "I admire him for having the drive and ambition to do that. We will certainly miss him ... he's done an amazing job."
The mayor said the next economic development leader will "have a hard act to follow."
Kaler is confident the community will continue to work together. "I think we have all the elements in place to continue the work without any gaps in our progress."
Chancellor said he will probably stay in Paducah for a little while after leaving PED, but will ultimately wind up nearer the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is from Waynesboro, Mississippi.
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