Teague will be replaced by Clark Duncan, now the chamber’s vice president of economic development.
ASHEVILLE — Economic developer Ben Teague will leave his position at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce later this year. But he won’t be going far.
Teague, the chamber’s chief operating officer and executive director of the Asheville-Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition, has taken a position with Biltmore Farms LLC. He begins his tenure as the organization’s vice president for strategic development on July 1.
Teague said he will be replaced at the chamber by Clark Duncan, now its vice president of economic development. Duncan has been with the chamber since 2008.
"As a leader, I’ve tried to do the right things and that took a lot of direction from my board and my team," Teague said in a phone interview Friday. "All of that wrapped together is a legacy for the community."
Biltmore Farms is a community development firm spawned by George Vanderbilt in 1897, its website shows. It is managed by Chairman George H.V. Cecil and President John F.A.V. Cecil, both of whom are descendants of the founders of Asheville’s historic Biltmore Estate.
Biltmore Farms primarily operates with four divisions: commercial, communities, homes and real estate. Teague, 39, is expected to provide "leadership on strategic items" for the company including on economic development and governmental affairs, according to the release.
Teague joined the chamber in 2008 following a four-year stint in a similar role in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He told the Citizen Times in 2015 the EDC lacked "a cohesive strategy" prior to his arrival, noting, "(t)here was no excitement around economic development here."
During his time in Asheville, the Economic Development Coalition brought in at least 53 projects representing more than 4,100 jobs and $1.2 billion in capital investment to the county, according to data provided by the chamber. Among his notable projects were efforts to lure GE Aviation in 2013 — and securing an additional investment from the company earlier this year — as well as the addition of New Belgium Brewing.
"I didn’t exactly know what it would be but I knew there were better things in store for this community," he said. "I got the honor to play a role in that. The way I’ve always looked at my job is how do I change the trajectory of my community and my family.
"I think it’s through winning better jobs, capital investment and the recognition that has been received by the community for all of those projects."
He also is credited for the creation of Venture Asheville, a chamber-led initiative to grow the community’s startup businesses by connecting them to mentors and investors.
Venture Asheville also lost its executive director this year after Josh Dorfman left his role to lead The Collider, an Asheville-based nonprofit workspace focused on climate solutions.
Kit Cramer, president and CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release she’s excited Teague will remain in Asheville, but sad he "won’t be with us on a day-to-day basis." Cramer said Teague will continue in his current position through the end of June. Teague also has been nominated to serve on the chamber’s board of directors in his new role.
Teague is a 2000 graduate of Mississippi College. He completed his graduate studies in 2002 at the University of Mississippi, where he studied business administration.
He is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and now lives in Fletcher with his wife, Haley, and sons, Campbell and Coleman.