Athens Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Doc Eldridge is stepping down.
Eldridge, mayor of Athens-Clarke County from 1999-2003, has headed the organization since 2007. His resignation is effective March 1, the Chamber announced Tuesday.
Eldridge told Chamber board Chairman Dean Mannheimer and Chair-elect Shannon Wilder that he will take a job in community relations and business development with Twin Lakes Recovery Center. The center has facilities in Athens, Gainesville and Monroe and is a part of Summit Behavioral Healthcare, a which owns a network of addiction recovery centers nationwide.
“The leadership at Twin Lakes offered me an opportunity to pursue something that I am passionate about, helping others in recovery, and I am looking forward to doing just that that,” Eldridge said in a press release.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve as president of the Chamber. This has not been an easy decision for me and my wife, Sheri,” he said, “but all things being considered, it is the right time.”
Wilder, who will chair the search committee to find a replacement, praised Eldridge in announcing his departure.
“Doc has supported so many people in our community who are struggling with addiction, so as his friend, I am thrilled that he now has the opportunity to follow his passion and help many more families in this new role,” she said.
“We are indebted to him and wish him well in this next stage of his life,” Mannheimer said.
The Chamber’s accomplishments with Eldridge as president and CEO include more and better programming for members, supporting the creation of the Athens-Clarke County office of Economic Development, stabilizing the Chamber’s finances, including recently selling its downtown building, increasing membership and reclaiming its role as the a community contributor and the community’s leading business advocate, according to the Chamber’s announcement.
Eldridge, 65, has lived almost his entire life in Athens. A graduate of Athens High School (now Clarke Central High School), he worked in Minnesota for two years before deciding to come back to Athens, where he entered the insurance business and became active in community affairs and organizations.
He is named Doc because of a family tradition, Eldridge explained in a 2000 article in the Athens Banner-Herald. First-born sons are always named Erwin James Eldridge, but they’re called Doc, he said.
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