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Rowan County’s economic development agency ready to name new director

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan County’s economic development agency could name a new permanent executive director as early as this week.

Interim Economic Development Director Scott Shelton on Tuesday announced that his agency — RowanWorks — recently made an offer to one of two finalists for the job. The unnamed person would take a position previously held by Robert Van Geons, who resigned in December to become president and CEO of Cumberland County’s economic development agency. Van Geons had been RowanWorks’ executive director since 2008.

Shelton’s announcement came as he requested a $25,000 increase in city funding for RowanWorks Economic Development. The City Council didn’t take action on Shelton’s request and, instead, will decide on it during budget conversations.

The next director of RowanWorks Economic Development will take over an agency projected to have a budget of $869,518 in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Shelton said the RowanWorks board hoped to find “an established name with a proven track record” to lead the agency. The agency retained Jorgenson Consulting, a search firm in Greensboro. It’s likely that RowanWorks will announce its new executive director on Friday, Shelton said.

Shelton and members of the City Council familiar with the search process offered extensive praise for the potential new director.

“This person has a long and proven track record of success,” Shelton said.

Councilman David Post offered praise for both of the two finalists. Post used specific examples of past work to describe their credentials.

He said one finalist nearly landed a car manufacturing plant, which ended up locating closer to the company’s corporate headquarters.

The second finalist saw his home county lose a major employer — Post compared it to Rowan County losing Food Lion. By the end of the year, the finalist had successfully worked to ensure that job figures were not significantly lower, Post said.

He also praised Shelton for his job performance as interim director. Post said the RowanWorks board received short notice when Van Geons left for a job that provided a 30 percent pay boost.

If every company in Salisbury had a second-in-command like Shelton, Post said, the city would be “an incredible place.”

“I want the council to understand he’s been phenomenal,” Post said about Shelton.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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