Originally created 04/24/98

Job cut slated at chamber



The Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce's new plan to streamline operations and change economic development strategies will leave Vice President Marty Blubaugh without a job in 90 days, chamber officials confirmed Thursday.

Mr. Blubaugh, who until last week was the organization's chief pitchman for attracting new industry, will lose his job when the position is eliminated in July.

"This is strictly a financial decision. It's nothing personal," said Chamber President Jim West.

Mr. West would not rule out future personnel changes caused by the recent restructuring, which was approved last week by the chamber's board and executive committee.

"We are going to continue looking at the organizational chart," he said.

The new plan consolidated Mr. Blubaugh's new-industry division and Kevin Shea's existing-industry division into a single economic development department headed by a senior vice president.

Mr. Blubaugh's job was eliminated when Mr. West promoted Mr. Shea to senior vice president.

Mr. Blubaugh said Thursday he is not taking the downsizing personally because he understands chamber revenues have dipped the last couple of years.

"Of course it's a hard thing to be laid off," Mr. Blubaugh said. "But it happens all the time. Corporate America is doing it every day."

Mr. Blubaugh, whose two-year tenure with the chamber resulted in 2,600 new jobs and $1.6 billion in investments in the community, said he enjoys Augusta and will try to find a job locally before looking outside the area.

"I've made a conscious decision to be positive and to keep supporting the chamber and the staff," he said.

Most of Mr. Blubaugh's work was marketing to companies via direct mail.

Mr. West said he wants to focus on networking and consulting with site selection firms that deal only with companies with current projects, which he believes is a more cost-effective approach to creating jobs.