FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL
By. Neil Williamson, President
As anticipated as the sun rising in the east, it is with absolutely no surprise that Albemarle County’s first Economic Development Director, Faith McClintic, will be leaving her position later this year. In her short 18 month tenure, McClintic often found herself at odds with Planning Commissioners, some members of the public, this writer, and some elected officials. In addition, she found herself without product as she said in August of this year:
“If a manufacturer calls interested in locating near a highway, we tell them, ‘We have nothing for you,’. Prospect businesses are looking to move within three to six months if they are not looking to build. We tell them, ‘We have no product ready to go today.’” – Faith McClintic, Albemarle County’s economic development director
In her first days she was greeted with the ill-fated Deschutes Brewery proposal, which started prior to her arrival. The public debate was rancorous and at times mean spirited. Despite the outcome, McClintic was respected for her professionalism in the line of fire. One of Da Lessons from Deschutes foreshadowed her departure:
Albemarle Economic Development Director Faith McClintic is a sharp, smart, economic development professional with a daunting task ahead of her. There has been relatively uniform approval of the job McClintic has done thus far (even from those opposing the CPA). It will be interesting to see if McClintic is able to maintain her high level of performance in the face of Albemarle’s competitive disadvantages or is recruited away to a more “business welcoming” locality. [emphasis added-NW]
One year ago (10/22/15) when we wrote of our concerns about the Planning Commission attempting to improperly influence staff, we thought the writing was on the wall for McClintic.
The Planning Commission does not want the unvarnished truth for it will call into question much of the planning assumptions they have been using to design their designated growth areas. They fail to see how their planning paradigm has pushed quality businesses (read JOBS) from Albemarle County. No, they want to influence and shade, if not change, the professional reporting from Albemarle Economic Development staff.
One sure way to run off a professional is to treat them in an unprofessional manner. [emphasis added-NW]
Perhaps, that is the underlying goal.
Well after 18 months, a shorter duration than many Albemarle rezoning applications, Albemarle has now lost Faith
We wish her well as she moves forward with her career at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) in Richmond.
At this point we have to ask, — Now that we have lost Faith, where do we grow from here?
How does a community that seems to be philosophically schizophrenic about the definition (and need) for economic development compete for new and expanding business?
Even as Albemarle is considering innovative economic development investments, will the Economic Development director position survive?
If it does, how do you believe other economic development professionals will view this job posting?
As usual, we have more questions than answers.
Neil Williamson, President
Neil Williamson is president of the Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded non-profit public policy organization focused on local governments in Central Virginia. For more information visit freeenterpriseforum.org.
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