Georgia College alumnus to lead state Chamber of Commerce
Chris Clark, who earned his master’s in public administration from Georgia College in 1997, has been selected to become the next president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Clark has been the commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources since 2008.
Clark, 40, will succeed George Israel, who has been the business organization’s chief for the past seven years, on Nov. 1.
The winner of the Georgia College Alumni Achievement Award in 2010, Clark also won Outstanding Recent Alumni of the Year award in 2000.
“My time at Georgia College was pivotal for my professional career and introduced me to a world of opportunity in public service,” Clark said this past spring. “Each member of the faculty seemed to honestly care about my future and went out of their way to help me.”
A past president of the State Economic Developers Association, Clark began public service in 1997 as president of the Hawkinsville Chamber of Commerce. He later became president of the Fayette County Development Authority. In 2003, he accepted the position of deputy commissioner with the state Department of Economic Development and, in 2007, he became executive director of the state Environmental Facilities Authority.
In an article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Clark expressed his excitement about the new position. He said the Georgia Chamber, which has an annual budget of $7.2 million, can help improve the state’s quality of life, seek consensus between the urban and rural areas, provide a stronger voice at the state Capitol and in Washington, and solidify the state’s economic development efforts in trade, tourism, entertainment and traditional industrial recruitment.
Clark believes the chamber’s focus should be on serving existing industry and providing a pro-business environment. He would like to see the organization partner with the state on international trade missions and serve as a go-between on economic development efforts between statewide organizations and local chambers of commerce.
As Clark sees it, a big part of his new job will be to help market the state. “It’s about telling a great story and selling our quality of life,” he said.
In the past couple of years, the chamber has launched the Georgia Initiative focusing on nine policy areas: education, transportation, tax, health care, law and judiciary, existing business and industry, environment and energy, international and tourism.
Georgia College has been involved with the state chamber in several ways. President Dorothy Leland has been a member of its board of directors and served on its education commission. The Georgia Education Mentorship (GEM) program, a creative partnership between Georgia College and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce that has provided more than 275 GCSU students with mentors who are leaders in business, education, politics, healthcare, law and industry, many of whom are members of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
The GCSU Economics of Education Policy Center and its director, Dr. Ben Scafidi, last year collaborated with the Georgia Chamber to host a state-wide conference on Education Reform. A second conference is planned this year in October in Macon. Scafidi is a nationally recognized expert on education policy and the center, one of the university’s programs of distinction, unites faculty across Georgia College to produce cutting-edge and policy-relevant research, to promote dialogue about improving state and local education policymaking and to engage undergraduate students in doctoral-level research.
Clark and his wife, Tiffany, live in Peachtree City. They have a four-year-old son.
For the Atlanta Business Chronicle article, go to