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Downtown Salisbury names Bohland new executive director

SALISBURY — After scrapping the search for an executive director earlier this year, Downtown Salisbury Inc. leaders found the person they wanted for the job right under their nose.
Paula Bohland, a longtime volunteer for DSI who had been serving as interim executive director on a contract basis, takes over the top job today.
Mark Lewis, DSI president, said he was ready to gear up the second search for an executive director when he asked Bohland if she was interested. She was, and after discussions, the DSI board voted unanimously to hire Bohland, Lewis said.
Bohland has worked as a part-time, contract employee for DSI since January. Her commitment and efficacy in the position has been apparent to the board and downtown supporters, Lewis said.
As interim director, Bohland identified and inventoried potential upper-level apartments throughout the downtown and started developing strategies for possible renovation.
She also worked to create innovative promotional events and has reignited the organizational work of DSI, Lewis said. She is implementing a business support initiative for existing downtown business owners, as well as recruiting new businesses.
After going for months without an executive director after Randy Hemann left in April 2013 to become the city manager in Oxford, Bohland “got us back on track,” Lewis said.
Bohland has served on various downtown development and organizational committees since 2003. In 2007, she was honored by DSI as volunteer of the year for her work with merchants and implementation of development projects. She served two terms as DSI president, and in 2012 was named the DSI director of the year.
The board and Bohland plan to hold a strategic planning retreat in August or September. The Downtown Master Plan remains the road map, but board members need to set priorities for Bohland based on their vision for downtown, Lewis said.
“Communication with merchants and stakeholders is big,” he said.
The board will rely on Bohland’s experience in helping potential tenants find the right space downtown, Lewis said. She is a former commercial real estate agent and has been fielding requests and showing vacant property.
Development of the Empire Hotel remains a high priority, Lewis said.
Downtown Salisbury scrapped two finalists for the executive director’s position in January when the board could not come to a consensus to hire either person. Lewis would not name the candidates.
“The last search was very disappointing,” he said.
When DSI brought Bohland on as interim, the organization also resumed planning and decision-making about marketing and promotions for downtown events like Friday Night Out. The Convention and Visitors Bureau took over marketing and promotions in late 2012, but the arrangement did not work well for either organization, Lewis said.
The promotions coordinator that DSI and the Convention and Visitors Bureau previously shared is now a full-time position for DSI, filled by Mollie Ruf. Bohland also has a contract employee working several hours a week, Lewis said.
Bohland’s annual salary is $70,000. Prior to serving as interim, she worked both locally and internationally as an executive-level manager with more than 20 years of consulting experience in nonprofit and private sectors.
Her main areas of expertise are community and economic development, infrastructure management, strategic planning, funds development and program management. Bohland has worked as a strategic planner and is certified as a PATH Strategic Planning Process Master Trainer and has published training curriculums.
Bohland has renovated and redeveloped historic properties in several states. She holds a North Carolina real estate license, which is inactive, and has worked in both commercial and residential real estate markets.
Bohland earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She went on to pursue special studies in business administration and management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She also holds a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in public policy and management from UNC-Chapel Hill.
She lives in Salisbury with her husband and son.
Downtown Salisbury will sponsor an open house to welcome Bohland from 5:30 to 8 p.m. July 24 at the Gateway Center. The public is encouraged to attend.
To schedule an appointment to meet with Bohland or for more information on the mission of Downtown Salisbury Inc., call 704-637-7814.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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