On March 27th, Central Louisiana lost its greatest business proponent, ally and friend…Mr. Elton C. Pody, President of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce. The impact of Mr. Pody’s tireless efforts to grow Central Louisiana into a place we can all be proud to call “home” will be felt by many generations to come. No words can effectively describe our gratitude for his service to this community. Mr. Pody was a leader by example and we learned much from him. His dedication to Central Louisiana was second to none. His visionary approach to economic development will ensure Central Louisiana continues to have a bright future. He certainly left his mark on Central Louisiana and in our hearts.
During his 20-year tenure, many factors combined to shape the community as we know it today; many self-driven and a significant number Pody-driven. Under his leadership, some of the more recognizable activities involving this Chamber being the lead or a significant participant were:
1. Lead role in the creation of the England Authority as the governing body of England Industrial AirPark and Community.
2. Lead role in locating the Federal Prison at Pollock, and subsequent facilities.
3. Lead role in promoting the transportation/infrastructure value of a 4-laned LA Hwy 28 between Leesville and Alexandria.
4. Lead role, working with state and local officials, to recruit the Union Tank Car $100M facility.
5. Lead role in getting Renewal Community designation for much of Central Louisiana.
6. Created the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA), a consortium of regional development entities allied to move forward as a Region.
7. Prominent role in advocating the transition of LSUA into a 4-year degree-granting institution.
8. Significant participant in fostering the creation and marketing of the Port of Alexandria and its subsequent development.
9. Worked with the City of Alexandria and other organizations to promote the application and achievement of Alexandria being designated as an “All America City”.
10. Highly respected throughout Baton Rouge and in Washington, such that his many Central Louisiana Delegation-led visits were regularly successful in achieving their intended goals.
11. Under his leadership, the Chamber is “Accredited” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is a distinction held by only 4% of chambers nationwide.
12. Perhaps his crowning achievement was hosting President George W. Bush at the Chamber for a small business roundtable discussion in October 2008.
Given this number and complexity of “opportunities to excel”, Elton certainly did so to the extreme. But accomplishing this took time, and as such, Elton became, at 20-years, the longest-serving director in the Chamber’s 97-year history.
The Chamber is establishing an Endowed Scholarship at Louisiana State University at Alexandria in Elton Pody’s name. This scholarship will pay a lasting tribute to his accomplishments, allowing his legacy to live on. If you are interested in participating, please mail your tax-deductible contribution to: LSU Alexandria Foundation, c/o Melinda Anderson, PO Box 5512, Alexandria LA 71307. Please make checks payable to the LSU Alexandria Foundation and write “Elton Pody Fund” on the check to ensure it is credited to the proper account. For questions, you may contact Melinda Anderson at the LSUA Foundation (318) 619-2916.