Donny Ray, executive director of the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, resigned his position last Friday, effective Oct. 4. He has served in that position since Jan. 1, 2011, following the untimely death of Charles Carr. Ray formerly served as Blount County Revenue Commissioner from 1993 until 2008.
In his resignation letter, Ray cited funding cuts that will render the chamber “no longer able to operate at its present level,” and said the move would allow “more flexibility as the chamber works to reshape and redefine itself.”
Concerning his resignation, Ray said: “I have certainly enjoyed working for the Chamber of Commerce the past three years. I appreciate the opportunity to ‘come home’ and help the chamber through a difficult time with the passing of Charles Carr. It is time to return to the private sector of business, however. I wish Aimee Wilson, the board of directors, and everyone who is a member of the Chamber of Commerce nothing but the very best in the years ahead.”
The Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce has been the target in recent months of criticism concerning the distribution of its activities in areas of the county outside Oneonta, including a county commission work session on Aug. 29, which created a political dynamic that resulted in substantial cuts to the chamber’s annual funding allocations from both the City of Oneonta and Blount County.
Brandon Guyton, chairman of the board of the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, released the following statement concerning the resignation.
“In light of upcoming budget changes, the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce announces the resignation of chamber executive director, Donny B. Ray. Mr. Ray has served as an ambassador to Blount County and for the Chamber of Commerce over the past three years. While we can no longer retain him in service of the chamber, we are confident Mr. Ray will continue to be a valuable asset to our community. We wish him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors.
“It is a new day for the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, and as circumstances change it is imperative the Chamber accepts the responsibility of adapting to meet the needs of the community.
“This change will enable the chamber to continue serving our communities and businesses with exceptional support. Our obligation and goal continues to be the same: to enrich our great county by providing our communities and businesses with incredible service by supporting them in business and commercial matters. The Chamber of Commerce and its board of directors look forward to meeting the expectations of our community and members going forward, without fail.”
No decisions about filling the executive director job either temporarily or permanently have yet been announced.