Calls grow for national search for EDC director

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

The last time Rhode Island went national in its search for a chief economic-development executive, it offered an Arizona business consultant $250,000 per year, plus a car, to lead the state out of the financial crisis. More

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Calls grow for national search for EDC director

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 2/25/13

The last time Rhode Island went national in its search for a chief economic-development executive, it offered an Arizona business consultant $250,000 per year, plus a car, to lead the state out of the financial crisis.

The salary drew protests and state leaders never found out whether the planned investment was worthwhile: the nominee, Ioanna Morfessis, backed out of the job before being confirmed by the Senate.

Now what might be the most star-crossed job in state government is available again. The man acting in the role for the past 10 months, veteran R.I. Economic Development Corporation staffer William J. Parsons, turned down a permanent appointment recently because of a “serious health issue.”

Assuming Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee finds someone to take the job before the end of the year, the person he hires will become the sixth to serve or be nominated for EDC executive directorship in five years.

The rapid turnover and Rhode Island’s checkered economic record have renewed calls for a more aggressive approach, even if paying corporate executive wages for a public position remains unpopular.

“It is critical that the EDC have experienced, visionary leadership and that requires a broad search,” said Gary Sasse, director of Bryant University’s Institute for Public Leadership and a former director of administration under Gov. Donald L. Carcieri. “The best practice is to find a leader who is nationally recognized and has accomplishments and a sense of strategic direction. The last national search didn’t work out so well. It was the right process but it just didn’t turn out successful.”

The main concern with conducting a national search like the one that led to the Morfessis appointment, Sasse said, is time and the urgency to get a new, permanent leader in place as soon as possible.

From the moment Carcieri announced the nationwide executive director search until Morfessis turned the job down spanned nine months.

“I think you have to balance two things: the state’s ability to hire an experienced, effective leader with national and global exposure, and the need to move on a fast track,” Sasse said. “There is a balance required. You don’t have two years to do all this.”

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erik@tjrussellcompany.com

I'll take the job for $150k and a car. It's so simple it a joke that it never gets done the right way. I would loan to every viable RI small business that has good credit. I would have 8 to 10 year amortizations 3.5 to 4.5% interest rates and allow debt consolidation as well.That will make a huge difference to cash flows for small businesses. That's what its going to take to genuinely help RI small business. And by small business I mean real small business not 500 or fewer employees. That's not small business in RI. The vast majority of RI small businesses in RI are 25 or fewer employees. Those are the companies that need cheap flexible capital that gives owners the time and space necessary to grow their businesses in this depressed State economy. Erik C Warner, President, TJ Russell Supply, Bristol, RI employer of seven souls

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Report this
Anita

erik, you have my vote!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Report this
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