May 23, 2013 10:39:37 AM
Austin Shafer, Greater Starkville Development Partnership's vice president for membership and the chamber of commerce, will leave the Partnership at the end of the month and assume a new role with BankFirst Financial Services' local branch.
His last day with GSDP will be May 30, CEO Jennifer Gregory confirmed.
The Partnership will begin a search process in June to replace the exiting chamber leader, she said, and will hopefully have a new vice president in place by August.
Shafer's responsibilities will be absorbed by Partnership staff until a new hire is made, Gregory said.
"We plan to take our time to search for the right person, and it's essential that we fill this position wisely," she said. "Our membership is a huge part of our existence at the Partnership, so making sure they feel connected and that potential members are reached out to is of the utmost importance to us. It's also essential that we find someone that will not only fit in as a member of our team but who will also be another spokesperson for Starkville. This town is a wonderful place to live, raise a family and visit, so we need someone that is invested in the community."
A Starkville native, Shafer returned to the community in 2011 after serving as a Livingston Furniture territory manager in Houston, Texas. He is also a graduate of Mississippi State University.
"I have nothing but incredible things to say about the Partnership, its board, the staff, the businesses I worked with and the ambassadors. It is a wonderful organization that has left me with amazing memories," Shafer said. "My main goal is to stay in and help this community. This is the town I chose, where I grew up and where my children will grow up. My main goal is to help make this place better."
"Austin has been a fantastic member of our team," Gregory said. "Losing him is definitely a loss for the Partnership, but I am extremely excited for him and his family for his new opportunity. We're excited he and his family will remain in Starkville and look forward to him continuing a positive relationship with the community at BankFirst."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch