Originally published at CMCC News.
On December 16, 2016, Scott Woods stepped into the white walled boardroom to raise the wooden gavel for his last meeting as Chairman of the Board of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. It is a role that many great volunteer leaders have held through the years, each with their own approach and personal passions.
“Every term is a brick in the wall,” said Woods, “each leader and executive team crafts their block to support the growth and vision. You can’t build a strong foundation alone.” That theme was predominant through Woods’ tenure, in completion of the Legislative Agenda, achieving a solid annual operating budget and developing the OneRegion strategy. None of these achievements would be possible without collaboration.
“You get the Chamber members and strategic partners in one room and the outside perception is that we’re just exchanging business cards, but this Chamber does much more,” said Woods. “The events are the connection point and connections become the change.”
For Woods, education and talent development within our region have always been a paramount issue. As the father of three daughters, the future economic prosperity provided by a strong talent pipeline and local workforce is important. However, it is also fundamental to his personal success story and his pathway to being President and CEO of South Carolina Federal Credit Union for over a decade.
A Folly Beach native, Woods worked in high school as an auto mechanic and then as a fireman with the Mount Pleasant Fire Department. “No one in my family had ever gone to college, it was not on my to-do list,” offered Woods. “It was not until I gave college a try that I realized the additional opportunities available.”
These experiences have made Woods a strong advocate for Career Academies and working with current and future employers to address and fill gaps in education to retain both jobs and talent within the region. “It is about creating a way of life that creates opportunity,” Woods said, adding that a large part of the Chamber’s job is to advocate and work to make that happen.
The Charleston Metro Chamber and Woods have worked to encourage and advocate for more career opportunities for the region’s youth, not only those intending to pursue a traditional university degree. Lucrative opportunities, including the aeronautical institute, culinary schools, technical colleges and certifications are available.
“There are many possibilities that can give a career path for a lifetime,” said Woods. “When I was an auto mechanic or with the fire department the next steps were not clear, we are working to help pave paths for advancement.” This type of diversity in occupation and opportunity provides a rich employment ecosystem for the area.
Woods counts himself lucky that many of the elements of the Accelerate 2 program, a three-year campaign – to propel regional improvements in talent, innovation and advancement, came together while he was at the helm. He and the chamber board had the opportunity to develop plans for the next years of high- growth opportunity.
The One Region economic development strategy is also essential as stakeholders build a globally competitive metro area. Woods is glad to have been a part of the strategy development and looks forward to the implementation and next steps of the plan to activate and engage the community.
Woods will formally pass the chairman’s gavel to incoming Board Chairman Patrick Bryant at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting in early February. Woods and Bryant started working with the Chamber about the same time, nearly a dozen years ago.
“He is a fantastic person and a very capable businessman,” Woods said. “It is exciting to see him take on this leadership role, and I am eager to see how he is going to continue to bring the Chamber forward.”
Bryant will be working with the talented chamber staff and a host of committed regional leaders. Woods’ offered one tip of advice for the innovative entrepreneur, “rely on your committee leaders and members, trust their insights to strengthen, cultivate and execute a collective success.”
That’s right; it’s all about collaboration.