Jul. 1—The outgoing president and CEO of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday he will be working on several projects when he leaves his chamber job July 30, but he said he could not go into detail about his plans.
The chamber announced Thursday that Toby Teeter had submitted his resignation to the chamber's board 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," board Chairman Jeremy Drinkwitz said 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 for the 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" for him to step aside, he said. "We have a really strong board right now, and I think we're in the best position to make a good decision (on a successor). And we have some important things coming up, and it would be great to have someone on the ground running" when those things are happening.
Among upcoming projects are three ballot proposals to fund city projects. The chamber has a nonprofit arm that traditionally campaigns for city issues. The chamber also has several prospects for new business and industry that are pending a decision on where those companies will locate.
Mayor Ryan Stanley said that in his City 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," he said. "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, has had access to chamber workings.
"I think Toby's legacy is easy to see when you look at some of the entrepreneurial support it has provided" to startup businesses," Edwards said. "I think he has a robust entrepreneurial system. That was a sector that was underserved, 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, park 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 a public initiative to promote cultural equity, diversity and inclusion. That, and remarks he made to The Washington Post about systemic racism and conservative politics in Southwest Missouri, drew public criticism of him and the chamber that came, in part, from some chamber members and those who attended City Council meetings where Teeter was present.
A Joplin-area native, Teeter took the chamber job in December 2018 to succeed longtime chamber leader Rob O'Brian.
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 lobbyist for the Hendren and Andrae law firm in Jefferson City before venturing into the development of new companies.
Before coming to the chamber, he operated two companies that he founded. He was the major partner in the renovation and redevelopment of Joplin's Gryphon Building, 1027 S. Main St.