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New chamber CEO gets to work
Andrew Cripps
Andrew Cripps

 RINCON —  Andrew Cripps got right down to business when he arrived in Effingham County. It’s what he always does.

Cripps is the new Effingham County Chamber of Commerce’s new CEO. He has 15 years of experience as a chamber executive in his native New Jersey, Florida and Virginia.

In announcing the selection of Cripps after a five-month search, Board Chairman Joe Marchese said, “Andy’s chamber experience and communication skills will be a great asset to this chamber and we are very pleased to have him on board to be a part of the exciting future of Effingham County.”

Effingham is one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation. It ranked 26th last year.

Since reporting for duty Jan. 13, Cripps has been busy familiarizing himself with local chamber members, business leaders and government representatives. He visited the Effingham Herald on Jan. 22.

Cripps said his goal for Effingham County is the same one he had at his other career stops — to build value in chamber membership. His aim is to heighten its impact and visibility.

Before Cripps can reach full effectiveness, however, he has a problem to resolve.

“One of my goals starting out is to build up our team,” he said.

Chamber office manager and membership director Becky Shea was set to retire from the chamber last year but decided to stay to help with the transition to a new leader. Her job is open and there is one other vacancy.

“There should be three of us, and that doesn’t necessarily mean (the others) should be full time,” Cripps said. 

Cripps voiced appreciation for Shea’s dedication in recent months.

“I don’t come trying to put out fires,” he said. “Things are being handled well.”

Cripps said volunteers will be valuable during his tenure.

“... we need a little bit more reach out into the community and to get in front of more people,” Cripps said. “You can do social media all day but you can’t do enough of walking in the door and saying, ‘Hi. I’m from the chamber. How can I help you?’”

Under Cripps’ direction, the chamber will value the ideas and opinions of its members.

“I’ve found that one of my skills is getting other people to talk and drawing them out, and getting them in a committee meeting and getting them to throw their ideas on the table,” he  said. 

Cripps will meet more of Effingham County’s movers and shakers during Effingham Day at the Capitol on Feb. 11.