CAIRO — Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce executive director Trey Gainous announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down from his position in the coming weeks to assume a new role for a former employer.

Gainous will return to work as a field engineer with the Grady Electric Membership Corporation, where he previously worked as a lineman for six years about a decade ago.

“I got an opportunity and I could not pass it up,” he said.

The chamber director said he left Grady EMC a decade ago in good graces to travel the country as “a very pampered bus driver.” Gainous said he left the job on good terms, and it was always understood that he would one day return.

Gainous has not yet determined when his final day of work for the Chamber will be.

In his nearly two years at the Chamber’s helm, Gainous said he believes he’s made a positive impact, and that getting the community excited for the Chamber is perhaps his “crowning achievement.” When Gainous took the job in July 2018, it was out of love for the community.

“I did it because I care about Grady County and wanted everyone else to see the same things I saw,” he said.

During his tenure, Gainous said the Chamber has become a cheerleader and voice for the city and county.

“Throughout this COVID situation and in any natural disasters, we found ourselves as the go-to place for information on what our citizens can do and where they can find help,” he said. “We’re an information hub, and I’m pretty proud of that.”

Gainous is also proud of the fact that when county commissioners have needed to set up livestreams of their meetings during the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve called the Chamber for help because they have the largest potential audience.

Under his direction, Gainous said the Chamber has taken a “less than traditional” approach to marketing businesses — something he said he, Chamber assistant director Courtney Salapa King and Grady County Joint Development Authority director Julian Brown take pride in. Part of that approach has been to market upcoming events with humorous videos on social media and to encourage community networking at “Business After Hours” events, both of which began during Gainous’ tenure.

The chamber director’s original plan was to announce his departure last week. He would then stick around to oversee the Chamber’s April 18 fishing tournament and the Annual Great Southern Car Rally early next month before officially departing May 10.

“That way we go through all of the big stuff before someone else had to take over,” he said.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, those plans went out the window.

April’s fishing tournament has been postponed, likely until later in the summer, and the Car Rally has had to be pushed back as well. With no major events to oversee, Gainous said he may actually leave sooner than May 10 to help save the Chamber money.

“It’s a little bit of money that they wouldn’t have to pay in a time when we need to save everything,” he said.

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