MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Billy Canary, CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, announced his departure Friday from the state’s premiere business advocacy organization after 15 years at the helm.
Canary is taking a position as senior fellow at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BCA announced in a news release. The groups are closely intertwined as BCA is the Alabama state affiliate for the U.S. Chamber.
“It has been my great privilege to lead the BCA these past 15 years,” Canary said. “During my tenure, we have worked every day to make the BCA the most relevant and effective business advocacy association in Alabama. It has been an honor to work alongside men and women from all segments of Alabama’s economy, who invest hundreds and hundreds of hours of volunteer service to the BCA, for what is in the collective best interest of Alabama’s business community.”
Canary’s exit comes after a handful of high-profile companies, including Alabama Power, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Regions Bank, withdrew their BCA memberships and publicly aired their disagreements with the organization’s leadership. The Power Company and others have sought Canary’s immediate removal for the last year, but the BCA board insisted on a more deliberate transition process.
In June, BCA announced it was moving forward with a search for a new CEO with the goal of finding Canary’s successor as soon as September and no later than January. Mark Colson, who is Canary’s Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs will assume the responsibilities of CEO as that search proceeds, the release said.
Current and past BCA leaders offered praise for Canary’s tenure as CEO. Chairman Perry Hand called Canary “difficult to replace” and said the organization would “remain committed to coalescing the Alabama business community for the betterment of our state and our state’s economy.”
Jeff Coleman, the immediate past chairman, said the business community “achieved major successes through the years under the leadership of Billy Canary and the entire team at the BCA.”
“There is definitely more work to do, which is why the BCA is focused on being a catalyst to bring growth and prosperity to our great state. We are currently in the middle of an election year that will see a new Legislature elected – a Legislature that will have to develop effective solutions for infrastructure, education, and health care, to name a few.”