TREASURE ISLAND — Former Redington Shores Mayor Jody Armstrong is now president of the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce – a job she says will be a lot more fun than politics.
"Everybody wants a fun job in life and this is the best of all," Armstrong said Thursday. "I am really looking forward to exploding the chamber."
Armstrong, a practicing lawyer who also holds a master's in business administration, left politics in 2009 after guiding the town through major construction projects that refurbished the town's stormwater system, put most of the town's utility lines underground, and built a system of beach accesses and dune walkovers. Previously, she served as chief operating officer of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, recognized at the time by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as Co-Nonprofit of the Year.
"Do I miss politics? No," she said. "It seemed like the entire time I was mayor we were under construction. I am proud that I did what I said I would do."
She said she is taking that same determination to her new post as chamber president.
"I am just thrilled to be helping the chamber grow," Armstrong said. "Treasure Island is uniquely positioned to claim an 'ownership position' of Florida beach commerce."
Her background in government and tourism — and her experiences as a local business owner — gives her a broad range of skills she can apply to her new post, she said.
In her new position, Armstrong will guide the chamber in its efforts to grow local businesses and bring more visibility to Treasure Island.
The chamber is in the midst of a five-week tourism advertising campaign on area television stations.
Armstrong replaces W.D. Higginbotham Jr., who took the job just six months ago after leaving his post as city manager in Madeira Beach — just before an election changed the political complexion of that city's commission.
Higginbotham and chamber officials say his departure was a "mutual" decision that will allow Higginbotham to focus on his consulting business.
In his resignation letter, Higginbotham listed a number of achievements accomplished under his leadership, including increasing the chamber's membership by 156 percent, developing new promotional materials and saving the chamber substantial money by bringing financial services and website updating in-house.
"The Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce is no longer an unknown entity," Higginbotham wrote.