FSEDI begins search for new leader

Published 10:22 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2021

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Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc.’s Board of Directors have initiated a nationwide search for a new president and chief executive officer to lead the public-private organization.

Jay Brenchick, who previously held the position, announced his departure last year, stating he needed to return to his home state of Maine for personal family reasons.

“The board is taking a very strategic approach to the search for a new economic development professional,” according to Harrell Turner, chairman of the board and owner of CHT Forestry LLC. “Our goal is to match the candidates’ skill sets and goals with the needs of the community. This position is extremely important for the future economic success of the City of Franklin and Southampton County.”

FSEDI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, serving as the point of contact for all aspects of economic development initiatives including commercial, professional and industrial marketing to new businesses, maintaining and growing the investments of existing companies, supporting local small business and entrepreneurial efforts and managing the area’s tourism brand.

Its president and CEO is responsible for directing, coordinating and administering economic development activities throughout the city of Franklin and Southampton County in order to expand the local tax base, retain and attract businesses to the area and market the community’s attractiveness for investment purposes. Specific responsibilities include encouraging the expansion and establishment of commercial, professional and industrial businesses and providing support for entrepreneurial endeavors. The president is to represent FSEDI at meetings with clients and work with various local, regional and state partners.

In a move to identify professional candidates to fill the role, the board has engaged The Chason Group to lead the executive search process. The firm specializes in executive searches for economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, foundations and other non-profits. The search process is broken into three phases. The first stage, which has already been completed, centered on determining the skill sets and focus points for the position. FSEDI members, government leaders and other stakeholders were interviewed by The Chason Group in order to provide an updated position description and a candidate profile to the board. The second phase includes identifying potential candidates who may fit the criteria established. The final segment will be to interview candidates best suited for the role.

“The ideal candidate for the position is a professional with experience in the areas of economic development, community development, real estate, public relations, public administration, business or marketing,” Turner said. “Candidates applying should have a proven track record of excellent collaboration and relationship building skills, outstanding communication skills and a robust understanding of rural economic development.”

In addition to Turner, members of the board include Warren Beale, former owner of Manry-Rawls Corporation; Dr. Felicia Blow, associate vice president for development at Hampton University; Harriet Bain Duck, former first vice president and investment officer at Wells Fargo Advisors; and Brian Hedgepeth, chief executive officer at Bronco Federal Credit Union.

Candidates interested in the president and CEO position may upload a cover letter and resume at www.thechasongroup.com. Documents must be submitted by April 21.