Jun. 30—Outgoing president and CEO of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, Tobias "Toby" Teeter, said Wednesday he will be working on several projects when he leaves his chamber job July 30, but said he could not go into detail about his future plans.
The chamber on Thursday announced that Teeter had submitted his resignation to the chamber's board of directors this week.
Teeter said he will stay until July 30 and continue to advise chamber staff through the transition to a new president, according to the announcement.
"Toby has done a tremendous job of leading the chamber through a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change in addition to his focus on economic development, talent attraction, EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) and regional branding," said board chairman Jeremy Drinkwitz in a statement. "We thank him for his leadership and wish him the best of luck in his next chapter."
Teeter said in a statement issued by the chamber, "Serving as the Joplin chamber's president has been one of the greatest honors of my life. Now it's time for me to step down and allow a new chamber leader to emerge with the skills required to navigate Joplin's next chapter."
Asked the reason for his departure and whether he was pursuing his private business interests or taking another job, Teeter said, "I'm working on multiple things," adding that he had not taken the chamber position in December 2018 with the intent of staying long-term.
He believes the timing is good for him to go on to other interests.
"I think it's the best time for the chamber and for the community to step aside now. We have a really strong board right now and I think we're in the best position to make a good decision (on his successor). And we have some important things coming up and it would be great to have someone on the ground running," Teeter said, adding that he could not further discuss details about those things.
The city has scheduled three ballot proposals to fund city projects and the chamber has a nonprofit arm that traditionally campaigns for city issues. The first one is a proposal on the Aug. 3 ballot for renewal of the quarter-cent parks and stormwater sales tax. Another will be a Nov. 2 question to put a use tax in place. The city also will voters in April to approve the issue of debt to finance a $30 million renovation and expansion of Memorial Hall and a separate issue of $10 million to fund Project Launchpad, which involves remodeling of the former library building in the 300 block of Main Street as a business training and entrepreneurial center that will be operated by the city, chamber and Missouri Southern State University.
Mayor Ryan Stanley said that in his council role he has been in a position to observe the work of Teeter and the chamber organization in Joplin's economic development efforts.
"I am confident in stating that Toby Teeter served this community well in his role as president of the chamber and the city's economic development lead. Toby's ability to take an idea from concept to implementation quickly allowed him to explore more opportunities and work efficiently. Toby's ability to think big on what companies Joplin could attract, and the city Joplin could be in the future, is inspiring. On behalf of the Joplin City Council, I wish Toby Teeter great fortune and prosperity in his future endeavors. Joplin is grateful for his service and hope he can find many ways to continue to help us improve in the future."
Nick Edwards, who as city manager is an ex-officio member of the chamber board like the mayor and has had access to the chamber workings said,
"I think Toby's legacy is easy to see when you look at some of the entrepreneurial support it has provided," to startup businesses. 'I think he has a robust entrepreneurial system. That was a sector that was under-served and that's something we need. It will pay dividends in Joplin's future."
Edwards said Teeter led a number of conversations about Joplin's quality of life, quality of place. trails, parks amenities and new business opportunities.
"I think he brought that conversation to the community and emphasized how important it is to invest for those people who are new here or who move here."
Additionally, Edwards credits Teeter with creating momentum for investments in Joplin. "He was very skilled at marketing Joplin and, in doing so, I think he raised Joplin's profile, not only here but across the state and maybe even the United States. I think a lot of things will see success even though he is moving on."
Teeter called attention to the need for Joplin to engage in an public initiative to promote cultural equity, diversity and inclusion. That, and remarks he made to the Washington Post about systemic racism, drew public criticism of him and the chamber that came, in part, from some chamber members.
Teeter, a Joplin area native, took the chamber job in December 2018 to succeed long-time chamber leader Rob O'Brian. O'Brian retired and then ran for state senate.
Teeter graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor's degree in finance and insurance. He graduated from the School of Law at the University of Missouri in 1999. After that, he worked as an associate attorney and registered lobbyist for Hendren and Andrae in Jefferson City before venturing into the development of new companies.
Before coming to the chamber, he operated two companies that he founded and he was the major partner in the renovation and redevelopment of Joplin's Gryphon Building, 1027 S. Main St.