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IDA looks to narrow choices for director,  conduct interviews / July 11, 2019

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority is looking to winnow a field of 14 candidates for the position of executive director, with a goal of identifying a handful of finalists by next week.

There may be as many as four contenders for the job or as few as two when the IDA meets next on July 19, said interim executive director Kristy Johnson. Johnson has led the IDA since the November departure of Matt Leonard, the IDA’s last full-time executive director.

Applications for the directorship will be reviewed in the days leading up to the July 19 board meeting, by which time the field will be cut down to just a few candidates. Johnson said she anticipated that IDA board members would interview the finalists at the upcoming meeting.

“This is a very unique field,” Johnson said, explaining the candidates hail from diverse backgrounds and bring different experiences to the table.

According to Johnson, there are 14 job applicants who have submitted resumes, salary histories, professional references, and cover letters to Berkley Group, a consulting firm which is advising the IDA board with the selection process. The hope is to present two candidates for the IDA’s board to interview in person by the 19th, though there may be as many as four finalists who make it to that stage, depending on the quality of the applications.

In setting forth the criteria for the job, the board noted, “The Halifax IDA has approximately $42 million in assets, including over $31 million in real property (land and buildings). It owns 10 buildings and 250 acres of land in two industrial parks. The Southern Virginia Technology Park, located within a Technology Zone and a Virginia Enterprise Zone, has eight pad-ready sites, combinable from six-25 acres, on 165 acres of land.” The IDA also jointly owns the Halifax Visitor Center and has a hand in other initiatives.

According to the job description, “The Executive Director will take these assets and form a comprehensive plan for attracting businesses, retaining businesses, and expanding the existing programs. The Executive Director will also need to oversee these assets on a day to day basis while serving as a liaison to the community.”

Candidates must have either a master’s degree or an equivalent in fields related to administration and planning, must have three to five years of successful leadership at a senior executive level in a similar organization similar to the IDA, have shown commitment to developing new skills through participation in certain training programs, and a record of being an involved community member.

There are also strict personal traits that the IDA desires. The Executive Director must have integrity and be honest with the community, professional competent but humble, have strong leadership skills, be a team player, understand the motivations and obstacles facing small businesses, and an ambiguous term that the IDA calls “the right fit.”

In addition to the other tasks, the IDA Executive Director will be charged with overseeing the organization’s Five-Year Strategic Plan.

The Executive Director will be compensated generously with participation in the Virginia Retirement System, health insurance coverage, paid time off, deferred compensation, a vehicle allowance, professional development support, and other benefits to be negotiated during the contract phase.

Candidates will need to pass a drug test to be considered.

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