Rex Hammond, president of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber, will step down at the end of the year.

Under Hammond’s leadership the chamber earned two five-star accreditations from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the highest honor distinction issued to a chamber.

Hammond is moving to North Carolina to be closer to his children. He also plans to complete a doctoral program through the University of Manchester (UK). Hammond’s resignation is effective Dec. 31.

Here is the news release from the Lynchburg Regional Chamber:

The Lynchburg Regional Chamber Board of Directors announced today the departure of Chamber President and CEO, Rex Hammond, effective December 31, 2013. Board Chair and Owner of Generation Solutions, Tulane Patterson stated "It is with great sadness that we acknowledge his leaving. For this 15-year period, Rex has served our community and made this Chamber one of the best in the nation."

Under Rex's leadership the Chamber earned two, 5-Star Accreditations from the United States Chamber of Commerce, the highest honor distinction issued to a chamber, and thus positioning it in the top ½ of 1% of all the chambers in the US.

Other accomplishments during his tenure include:
• The creation of the Committee to Advance the TransDominion Express, which positioned Lynchburg to receive Amtrak service to Washington, D.C. to Boston. This new passenger rail service was Virginia's first state-owned service and has been one of Amtrak's top performing services in the nation. The Chamber was also instrumental in extending Amtrak service to Roanoke and in garnering support for a dedicated funding stream for rail development in the 2013 Transportation Plan.
• The Chamber galvanized public and political support for resurrecting the Charlottesville Bypass of US29. The Chamber worked shoulder to shoulder with Senator Steve Newman and Governor Bob McDonnell to break the 12-year impasse and get a signed contract for the $245 million project.
• The Chamber managed the discoverLynchburg tourism program, the most accomplished economic development program in the history of the region. The program has earned two international accreditations from Destination Marketing Organizations Association and 23 state and national awards of excellence. Before recruiting the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star Games back to Lynchburg, a national consultant estimated that discoverLynchburg generated more than $20 million annually in economic benefit for the Lynchburg Region.
• The Chamber convinced surrounding counties to petition for a new workforce training region with Lynchburg as the heart of the Regional 2000 Workforce Investment Region.
• The Chamber has purchased a new headquarters at the intersection of US 29, 501 and 460. With the culmination of the fund raising campaign, the Chamber is planning to renovate and move into new location in 2014.
• The Chamber's Air Service Partnership worked closely with Lynchburg Regional Airport to secure a federal grant and raised a $100,000 match to induce Delta Airlines to return jet service after an absence of more than 20 years.
• The Chamber merged with Central Virginia Industries, a 50-year-old association created to address the needs of the region's manufacturers. The newly-constituted Central Virginia Industries Council, in addition to providing training/education opportunities, is currently finalizing an agreement with Centra to launch a new urgent care/outpatient clinic for employees and families of CVIC member businesses.
• The Chamber has maintained member retention of 90% during his tenure.
• The Chamber has earned more than 40 state and national awards for communications, membership, leadership, operations, programming and management excellence.
Hammond earned his Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) designation from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Lynchburg College. He is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program at the University of Manchester (UK). He has been named Chamber Executive of the Year in Virginia and North Carolina. He has managed chambers and non-profit organizations since 1984.
Hammond also brought the Chamber from a position of a negative fund balance of -$45,000 to 14 years of consecutive profit.

"This community and our members owe Rex a tremendous amount of gratitude for his vision, tenacity and service to our region during these past 15 years." stated long time board member Randy Smith, President of ABC13 WSET-TV.
Hammond plans to relocate to North Carolina to be with his children and complete a doctoral program through the University of Manchester (UK).