RowanWorks names Rod Crider of Ohio as new president and CEO

Published 12:34 pm Monday, April 24, 2017

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — RowanWorks Economic Development on Monday announced that its new president and CEO will be Rod Crider, who currently leads an economic development agency in Wooster, Ohio.

Crider will become the fourth leader of RowanWorks in its history. He will be the first with the titles of president and CEO.

He has more than 30 years of experience in economic development organizations and chambers of commerce in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia. Currently, he is president and CEO of the Wayne County (Ohio) Economic Development Council.

Crider is scheduled to begin work for RowanWorks on June 5. He will make $150,000 per year.

Crider, a Michigan native, said he was intrigued by Rowan County’s potential for growth and its reputation as a business-friendly community.

“It really felt like it was a good fit for me and my experience and my skill set,” Crider said in an interview. “I have been really impressed with the leadership and all the effort they’ve put into economic development.”

He said Rowan County is well positioned for growth in part because of local leadership. Local employers have access to a “really large” workforce, he said. Crider said public schools and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College are taking steps to improve the quality of the workforce.

Crider has a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree from Madonna University. He and his wife, Rita, have four adult children.

His selection comes after a nationwide search. RowanWorks hired a consulting company and conducted two rounds of interviews. Todd Jorgenson, managing director of Jorgenson Consulting, said the search involved direct outreach to more than 150 economic development professionals.

Jorgenson Consulting created a list of nine resumes for the RowanWorks search committee. Candidates came from a number of states, including North Carolina, said RowanWorks Chairman Stephen Kidd.  The search committee interviewed four people in person. The search ended recently when the RowanWorks board of directors picked Crider from two finalists.

“We invested over three months in our search and interviewed candidates from multiple states across the country,” Kidd said. “We feel confident that we have chosen wisely, and we look forward to helping Mr. Crider attract and retain the very best companies to employ and invest in our community.”

Kidd said he liked Crider in part because his resume used the word “we” when noting accomplishments instead of “I.”

Crider has served in his current position since 2005. During that time, he assisted 259 companies that created 8,727 jobs and invested more than $1.7 billion in new capital expenditures, according to a news release. He has earned a number of awards in his current position, including his economic development organization being named four times as one of the top ones in the country by Site Selection magazine, according to a news release.

Currently, Crider supervises an agency for a county that is smaller in population than Rowan but better in other metrics. The median and per-capita incomes for Wayne County, Ohio, is slightly higher than those of Rowan, according to the latest census estimates. A slightly larger percentage of people in Wayne County are high school and college graduates, according to census statistics. The poverty rate in Rowan County is 17.3 percent, while the rate in Wayne County is 11.3 percent.

In a news release, Rowan County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds expressed confidence that Crider is the right pick to boost the local economy.

“We were looking for a proven national leader in the EDC industry that had the vision to help Rowan County capitalize on its considerable assets and bring quality jobs, opportunity, increased tax base and prosperity to all of our citizens,” said Edds. “Rod Crider has the experience and expertise to do just that.”

Edds said Crider’s hiring is “the fuel for the engine” for Rowan County’s economic development goals. Edds said he favored Crider over other candidates as soon as he saw the resumes.

“He stood out from the very start,” Edds said.

The economic development director is one of a trio of jobs — the others being the Rowan-Salisbury Schools superintendent and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College president — that are the most important for the county, Edds said.

Crider will take over RowanWorks from Scott Shelton, who has been interim director. Shelton will stay on as vice president of operations.

Former RowanWorks Executive Director Robert Van Geons left the agency in December to take a job as president and CEO of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Economic Development Corp.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.