West Baton Rouge Chamber has been without a director since July

The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new executive director months after the previous director Jamie Hanks left several months ago to pursue other opportunities. 

Patrick Hobbins, who chairs the chamber’s board, hopes to have someone in place before the next board term begins in February.  

The chamber hired Hanks in 2015. Her most recent position had been director of legislative affairs for the state Division of Administration, and she had previously served as the communications director for former Louisiana Congressman Rodney Alexander and as coordinator of government programs for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Business Report recognized Hanks as one of 40 important business leaders under the age of 40 in 2016.

In February, the chamber’s former event coordinator, Marie Anais Brand, was arrested for more than 30 counts of forgery and one count of felony theft in excess of $25,000 after discrepancies were discovered in the chamber’s finances. That incident came four months after Brand left the chamber following her arrest at the Texas-Mexico border on drug smuggling charges.

Hobbins says he is not aware of any connection between Hanks’ departure and the situation with Brand. 

Despite the absence of a director, Hobbins says West Baton Rouge “has a lot of projects going” in terms of economic development. Parish officials are anticipating a final investment decision from Grön Fuels, which is considering building a $9.2 billion renewable fuel complex at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. 

“That’s the big one that everybody’s waiting on,” Hobbins says. “If that happens, there is so much that comes down [with it].”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated since its initial publication to reflect that Hanks left in July, not March. The mistake was due to an editing error.