Steve Holt leaving Chamber of Commerce

Chamber President Steve Holt

Chamber President Steve Holt


FLORENCE–Shoals Chamber of Commerce President Steve Holt announced his resignation Thursday to the Board of Directors, saying he will conclude 22 years of service in the position Feb. 29.
During his tenure, Holt, 67, oversaw the Chamber’s role in projects such as the Singing River Bridge over the Tennessee River on Alabama 157 and the Shoal Creek bridge on U.S. 72. Other top accomplishments include formation of quality of life projects, ranging from Education Workforce Development to Keep The Shoals Beautiful.

“There have been a lot of victories and some defeats,” Holt said. “But it’s been a passion, and I’ll miss it.”

Holt will be replaced temporarily by board member Barry Auchly, former vice president of American Wholesale Book Company, who will serve as interim director until a replacement is hired.

“I hope to continue the great progress that Steve has accomplished in the last 22 years,” Auchly said. “Steve has provided wonderful leadership and direction for the Shoals community, and I plan to tap into this momentum in order to continue business growth in the Shoals.”

Mitch Hamm, chairman of the Chamber board of directors, said the legacy Holt has built in the Shoals “will most certainly propel us into a bright future.

“It is now on the shoulders of the current and future leadership to make good on our promise to strive to make the Shoals the greatest place to start and grow every type of business.”

Holt arrived in 1994 from Asheville, North Carolina, moving with his wife, Susie, and their two youngest children, Jon and Allison. He said he knew quickly the Shoals was going to be a place to call home.

“When we arrived at our new home, everything we had was still on the truck. So I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some bread and basics,” Holt recalled. “I wrote a $40 check on a Carolina bank. The cashier never asked for an ID and invited us to church. “That was the tone she set for us, and I went back years later and told her that.”

Soon, the Holts saw more evidence of what he calls “Shoals values.”
“I left my checkbook at the pharmacy one time, and when I went back, it was right where left it. Then I saw a car parked out in the open with its windows down and a lot of things on the seats and in the windows.

“I’ve lived a lot of places where the car would be gone, much less the possessions inside it. It speaks to the values of a community.”

In the Shoals, he found a home to enjoy work, family and his one other passion — Corvettes.
“I’ve driven every junker Corvette east of the Mississippi,” Holt joked.

His first Corvette was the 2000 series. “I drove it every day. It was my work car,” he said with a laugh. “I said when I got it, I’d never own another one. Then I saw the 2005 series.”

In his time as president, Holt has seen membership increase from about 650 to a crest of more than 1,000. Non-dues revenue has increased by more than 200 percent. The Chamber Foundation was established to receive grants, gifts and donations to programs, and the Chamber’s Political Action Committee was formed.

Outreach programs such as Youth Leadership Shoals, Keep Shoals Beautiful and the Shoals Area Law Enforcement Coalition also were created.

A University of Tennessee graduate with a degree in political science, Holt’s career has been conducted at chambers of commerce, first in Morristown, Tennessee, and later at Kingsport, Tennessee, before the family moved to Asheville, where he was executive vice president.

Holt said he is not ready to go into retirement, and will take a month off before deciding on his next path.

By Bill Campbell

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