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McBride Reflects On Over 20 Years At The Lubbock Chamber Of Commerce

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Eddie McBride is retiring after what he calls "a wonderful time" spent leading the organization.

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce does a lot in this town, from hosting events to advocating for businesses. It's an influential organization. Now, its longtime leader is set to retire after over 20 years. Outgoing CEO Eddie McBride recently visited the Texas Tech Public Media studio to reflect on his career.

An interview with incoming CEO Kay McDowell is also available online.

This transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Let's start with the reason we're doing this interview. Why is now the time for you to retire?

Eddie McBride: Very short answer to what a long decision process it was – I woke up after COVID, essentially, late last summer, early fall. And we had worked so hard and done a good job. And I knew had several years left on my contract. But I literally woke up one morning and said “this is time.” I wanted someone else to have a chance to have as much fun as I've had.

Lubbock has grown and changed so much in the past 20 years, while you were head of this organization. And that, of course, includes changes at the chamber. Highlight some of those changes.

The biggest change in the chamber, I think, is the continual good leadership that oversees the incremental changes, as opposed to actually changing anything in a gross fashion. So I think, all in all, we've had very good leadership.

I'm very fortunate to have had a chance to work with the giants of the business community on a day-to-day basis. I've been very fortunate to have extremely proficient staff. And even more so, it's important, the volunteers at the chamber because we are a volunteer organization, a volunteer-led organization. And so we're filled with many people that care so much about not just the business part of the community, but the community as a whole. So I've been very blessed, literally, with the people that I've been fortunate to work with.

You've been a part of several citywide projects through the years. What are some memorable ones for you?

Probably the alcohol petition, obviously, is one of the most memorable in a lot of respects. Although, I think it was in Lubbock’s DNA to actually end up going wet. So it wasn't that difficult to get the signatures on the two petitions that we led.

Then leading the sales tax election that actually created the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance. I think that was pretty important.

You've also been involved with political efforts. You touched on that just a second ago, but reflect on that part of the job for us. 

I think the biggest change, if there's been an incremental change that is really bigger today than what we've done before, is our advocacy efforts. From being a primarily networking, event-oriented chamber, to now facilitating these roles in the community to help both find issues that are important to us to help lead those at the ballot box, as well as now getting involved in the candidate endorsement process. I think that is going to be very important. Because to the chamber, the most important thing that we go on both with our policies, as well as our politics is what's of the best interest to the business community.

Through your 20 years at the chamber, which accomplishments are you most proud of? It's probably hard to just pinpoint a few.

Being a five-star accredited chamber recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is huge. We've done that three times. That means we're one of the top 1% to 2% of all the chambers in America based on, obviously, the accreditation process. It's helped us maintain our day-to-day activities in our operation. So it's been very beneficial in that respect as well.

And also, twice being recognized by the Association of Chamber of Commerce executives, as the best chamber in our dues category, best in the nation, has been huge. And also, when we were recognized as the best chamber in the state by Texas Association of Business and the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives.

Is there anything that you didn’t get done in your time that you’d like to see come to fruition? 

There's a couple of things. One is the ongoing effort that we're doing right now with the citywide branding effort. I'm leaving right toward the end of the process. We're getting ready to launch what our new brand profiles could be in partnering with all the various city agencies with the city brand. Both messaging as well as the visual attributes that go along with the messaging campaign. So it's been bittersweet that we got it started, and it’s gone extremely well, and what a great process we've had. But I'm going to kind of miss being part of the effort to kick it off.

Then I guess the two other things, specifically, is we always wanted to own our own building. We're in the process of that, but we're nowhere close to being finished. Nowhere really near yet saying what we're going to do next in that regard. And I guess the last process that we'll be starting next week is the candidates endorsement program. I think that's probably one of the most important things that our chamber will be able to do and contribute to really business-friendly people being at all levels of elected office in Lubbock and West Texas.

Yeah, I’m interested to see what comes of that. What’s next for you? What are your plans for retirement? 

Quit. Working. I've had a wonderful time. Being in this particular job, and Kay (McDowell) is going to find out as well and she has already, that being in the public eye, sometimes it's both good news, bad news. You know, sometimes it's, it's great to be able to rub elbows with folks and get things accomplished. But it's also difficult sometimes to run from your detractors. So I won't be able to run from my detractors. But I'm going to be glad that I'll be allowing somebody else to take over the role so that they can experience the same things and facilitate and help lead stuff that's good for the chamber and good for our community.

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Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at saselfwa@ttu.edu. Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.

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