GEDCO taps outgoing mayor as interim economic development exec

The key role is vacant at Gladewater Economic Development Corporation right now, but board members have tapped a familiar face to fill it – at least on a temporary basis.
Following last month’s departure of Executive Director Michelle Palmer for another post, the organization’s volunteer board has been considering how to deal with present needs and future plans, specifically how to find a new chief.
Considering the immediate future, last week board members unanimously accepted outgoing Gladewater Mayor Scott Owens’ request to helm the organization while they search for a permanent successor.
“We’re going to do it temporarily,” GEDCO Board President Luke Kimbrough confirmed. “Six months is what we’re looking at, or less,” depending on how quickly a solid executive director candidate can be tracked down, preferably locally.
For now, “What we really need is someone there just to make sure the phones are being answered.”
As a longtime city council member, former mayor and ex-officio board member for the economic development organization, Owens is a convenient stand-in on a temporary basis, according to GEDCO Board Vice President and Gladewater Mirror Publisher Jim Bardwell.
“I was surprised he was interested,” Bardwell said. It’s a working solution: “He certainly knows the town and knows the area.”
It’s a transition period, Kimbrough said; in the midst of moving forward, all of the board members have day jobs, and none want to see GEDCO lose momentum with no one person seeing to the organization’s day-to-day business.
“We do have some major projects we are working on right now, and we don’t want anything to fall through the cracks,” Kimbrough said, especially when it comes to division of labor between five people with other commitments. “We really need somebody to be there for the interim.”
The five board members chose Owens following an executive session discussion that took up the majority of their May 8 meeting.
Returning to open session, “We decided not to take action on a couple of items,” Kimbrough noted. For example, “We want to hold off on doing a search firm right now for looking for an executive director. We want to get the word out locally to see if we can find someone in this region or this area who has interest.
“We know that’s probably going to be a lengthy process.”
Prior to the meeting, albeit after the city’s election May 4, Owens approached several board members about filling in during the meantime.
With potential personnel action already listed on the agenda last week, “It worked out very easily to get that done. What we decided to do is bring him on-board,” Kimbrough added. “We just felt like it would be a little easier transition.
“Scott’s got great experience with the city. He knows the inner workings there. He’ll be a good fit, I believe. He already knows a lot of this information. Some of the projects we’ve got are directly because of the hard work he put into it as mayor.”

– By James Draper

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