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Halifax IDA director Brown fired from position

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Brian Brown, above; below, IDA Chairman Robert Bates and director Ryland Clark escort the ousted IDA director from Building One of the Southern Virginia Technology Park. / October 22, 2020
In a stunning turnaround after his hiring little more than a year ago, Brian Brown, executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, is out of the job.

Members of the IDA board gathered in emergency session Thursday to enter into closed executive session, where Brown’s status was apparently the main topic of discussion. After coming out of the closed meeting, IDA directors asked Brown to turn over all the files he had been working on, and board chair Robert Bates and director Ryland Clark escorted him out of the building.

In a unanimous vote, IDA directors agreed to terminate Brown’s employment without cause. “We’re moving in a different direction,” said Bates, without elaborating on the reasons for Brown’s firing.

It was not immediately clear who called the meeting, which began at 12:30 p.m. Thursday and continued until around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Brown was not invited to take part in the closed board discussion, a rarity for agency executive directors. The staff was represented by Tracy Mallard, deputy IDA director.

Brown was clearly stunned by his surprise ouster after he accepted the position in August 2019. He took over the reins of the IDA on Sept. 1, 2019. “I still want to help, I love this community,” Brown told directors.

Bates responded curtly that Brown needed to turn over “any files and folders you have,” including those related to ongoing projects.

“Wow, I’m going to be dead honest. Wow,” Brown replied.

Brown came to Halifax County after working as a market executive for Countryside Services Company, which develops real estate in Staunton. Before that, he served as economic development director for the City of Buena Vista. Before then, he was economic development director for the City of Roanoke. He was hired to replace Executive Director Matt Leonard, who left by mutual agreement with the IDA.

During his tenure, Brown has overseen the construction of a new shell building at the Southern Virginia Technology Park on U.S. 58, and Halifax County scored its first new major business in years with the recent opening of Golden Piedmont Labs in South Boston.

But Brown also was the bearer of recent news that the IDA has depleted its budget on the shell building and hemp processing facility, and at a joint meeting last week with the Board of Supervisors, he told IDA directors and supervisors there may be environmental issues at the former Daystrom plant that could render the facility unmarketable. The IDA purchased the shuttered furniture plant in late 2010 for $900,000 and has redeveloped the site for use by potential industry prospects. The bulk of the money to rehabilitate the Daystrom plant came from the Virginia Tobacco Commission.

This story will be updated.

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What direction are they going on? Seems like no one knows. How about get a chick-fil-a in town.


need to bring in businesses that have alarge footprint. To employ many locals as possible. Also focus on companies that pay better than $10-12hr. Companies that encourage training and have clear paths to advancement. ^^ chic fila is great food but not really what is needed


Another one bites the dust. The quote from Brown is classic for Halifax County and really should be on any new billboard advertising for business, industry, or visitors alike. "Wow, I’m going to be dead honest. Wow” All you can do is shake your dang head at IDA and County leadership.


Same story- This area, due to piss poor BOS leadership and no vision forward has allowed this county to become no better than 3rd world country. Poor infrastructure, no decent broadband for business or homes. You will not attract companies who want to pack up and come here. new schools are not needed. what is needed is quality braodband and fast internet. without that we will not progress. You can hire and fire people in that IDA role but it will not change until the local yokels can put forward thinker son the board. "If you build it they will come" only worked in a movie.


Good now the BOS needs to disband the IDA completely. Waste of Money!


Brian Fulk, as a experienced and trustworthy economic developer, is the one person to hire to create the changes Halifax County desires and needs.

The IDA can and should play an important leadership role in attracting new “right-fitting” businesses to build the tax base and employ our fellow citizens by providing good paying jobs.

Yes, we need the basics; broadband, workforce, pro business attitude, available land and sites, and more! But, just as important, we also need to “tell the world” about our unique advantages. “Build it and they will come” works only when you also have a great marketing plan and experienced and dedicated staff to implement the plan.


The IDA was a stipulation that came into being for the distribution of money accrued from the tobacco settlement. Their responsibility, in the beginning, was not to develop new jobs but to apply for the grants the county would be requesting. This guy sounds like he's being scaped-goated for a bad decision that was made prior to his hiring.


So this guy was fired for telling the truth that the county bought a building that they didn’t do their due diligence on and find out that it was a toxic waste dump underneath it and now as the floor in the building starts to bleed he’s let go because he told the truth


Sobo lacks one thing that was sorely needed: an interstate.


So, I hope you all are paying attention. Brian was a SCAPEGOAT!!! We should have first been alarmed Brian and the IDA's Office started signing NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS with large corporations, while at the same time, they were supposedly looking out for our best interest. How? The majority of your tax dollars were given exclusively to two wealthy investors, under a promise that they would match up to $6,500,000... WHERE IS THE MONEY???

Not one actual small or minority business was even considered. If we truly want Halifax to succeed, we have to practice fair commerce. Brian, undoubtably, received some incentive to allow one group to receive all of the funding and grants available. That, is criminal, and discriminatory. His firing, is merely another cog in the gears. We are financially invested in a PRIVATELY OWNED BUSINESS, and if it doesn't succeed, millions of dollars will have been lost, and our economy will not be in a better place for local citizens.

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