FSEDI names Karl Heck as president and CEO

Published 6:07 am Wednesday, June 30, 2021

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The Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. (FSEDI) Board of Directors has named Karl Heck, an experienced economic developer, as its new president and chief executive officer. 

Karl Heck

A FSEDI press release stated the announcement was made recently by Harrell Turner, chairman of the board and owner of CHT Forestry LLC. 

Heck’s first day is set for Aug. 2.

“The board took a very strategic approach in identifying candidates to lead FSEDI,” Turner said in the release. “Our goal was to find a professional who has the economic development background that will move our community forward in terms of job growth and development of our tax base. Karl has a strong history in the field and the industry expertise to lead FSEDI.” 

Heck has been a part of the Greene County Development, Tourism and Planning in Catskill, New York, since 2003. He most recently served as the director of economic development and planning. 

Other positions Heck has held include deputy director, Cortland Housing Authority in Cortland, New York, and community/economic development specialist for the Tompkins County Planning Department in Ithaca, New York. 

“I truly enjoy working in rural communities,” Heck said in the release. “I understand the importance of finding workforce, developing infrastructure and other challenges to economic development in a community like Franklin Southampton. I look forward to working with the FSEDI team on strategizing how we can build upon the solid foundation already in place for long-term economic vitality.” 

Heck earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He then received a master’s degree in planning from the University of Toronto in Canada.

As an avid chess player, Heck was inducted into the New York State Chess Hall of Fame in 2012. He has also been extremely involved with the Greene County Chamber of Commerce in Catskill, including serving as secretary-treasurer for the business organization. 

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. 

The organization is both funded and endorsed by the following entities: The Camp Family Foundations, the City of Franklin, Franklin Southampton Charities and Southampton County.  

As president and CEO, Heck will be responsible for directing, coordinating and administering economic development activities throughout the City of Franklin and Southampton County 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. He will represent FSEDI at meetings with clients and work with various local, regional and state partners. 

“This has been a team initiative by the community,” Turner said. “The FSEDI Board, City Council, county Board of Supervisors and the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber have all been at the table during the search process. As a group, we are committed to playing a positive role in the future of our community.” 

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, investment officer at Wells Fargo Advisors; and Brian Hedgepeth, CEO at Bronco Federal Credit Union. 

Ashley Covington, a member of FSEDI for eight years, has been serving as interim president and CEO since November 2020. She will transition to her former role as marketing and existing business manager. 

The Chason Group, a search firm focused on economic development, was retained by the FSEDI to lead the executive search for the president and CEO position.