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BREAKING NEWS: Cox Leaving Posts in Cabarrus for Florida

Jul 09, 2013 12:58PM ● Published by Jason Huddle

Concord - After almost 12 years at his post as CEO of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce (and later also servings as President of the Cabarrus Economic Development Council), John Cox is reportedly leaving for Naples, Florida, where he will head the chamber there.

When Cox first arrived, he was leading a chamber that was on the brink of financial collapse. Only two years earlier the Kannapolis and Cabarrus chambers had merged to become the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce. A power struggle soon ensued between the two former leaders of the chambers. It was long before the fledgling new chamber was hemorrhaging money and members. "I remember on my first day here, the garbage man came to take away the dumpsters because we had not paid the bill," Cox once told Cabarrus Magazine. His first task was to stop the bleeding and work with any debtors to see if the chamber could reduce the monies owed or have them forgiven outright.

Over the next couple of years things seemed to improve and members began to return to the chamber. But only a two years into his stint, Cox would experience the worst  single-event job loss in the state's history when the Pillowtex plant closed its doors suddenly and forever. It would be the first time Cox would lead efforts to restore people to employment in the county, but not the last. Later would come the closing of the Philip Morris Plant and the buy-out of CT Communications by Windstream.

All of these events would devastate some communities for decades to come, but Cox was determined not to allow that to happen here. He spearheaded efforts to bring about job fairs and classes at community colleges.  He took over the  leadership of the Cabarrus EDC and made bringing new companies and jobs to Cabarrus County his mission. Although his biggest goal, to help sell the Philip Morris Plant did not come to fruition under his tenure, he managed to avoid another major catastrophe when he, along with other community leaders, managed to convince S&D Coffee to not only remain in the county, but expand their facilities here as well. The full story of how that came about can be found in our January, 2013 edition.

Cox has earned his accolades, being named the 2012 Charlotte Business Leader of the Year by the Business Leader Media and the 2012-2013 North Carolina Chamber Executive of the Year by the Carolina Association of Chamber Executives Association.

Cox says he was not looking for a new job, but the people at the Naples Chamber of Commerce found him anyway and made him their unanimous decision to lead. That leaves the Cabarrus chamber in a situation it has not found itself in for a dozen years - finding a new leader. Cox will start his new position on August 19, but it was not clear at the time this story was posted when his last day at the Cabarrus offices would take place.

Cox says the decision was emotional and not an easy one to leave. "Words fail me with respect to how I feel about Cabarrus County, it's businesses, leaders and officials, " he told Cabarrus Magazine. "I am so grateful for the support I've enjoyed all these years and look forward to the same in Naples."

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