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The Paris Economic Development Corporation agreed Monday to begin the search for an executive director, but to delay the screening process itself until a full PEDC board is in place.
Assistant executive director Shannon Barrentine has been in charge of operations since Steve Gilbert’s resignation in January.
Gilbert, who had been under fire from the Paris City Council, stepped down to become a vice president with Harrison Walker and Harper, with economic development in the private sector.
Following the resignation a couple of months ago of Bruce Carr, the PEDC has been one member short of its full complement of five members.
Plus, Vicki Ballard has said she isn’t interested in re-appointment by the Paris City Council on June 23 for her term that expires on June 30.
That means two new members will come on board the PEDC on July 1 – one for three years and one for the one year remaining on Carr’s unexpired term.
Holdover PEDC members will be board chairman Rebecca Clifford and directors David Turner and Stephen Grubbs.
Those three were present for Monday’s noon special meeting, at which Turner gave a report on the search for an executive director.
The board went along with Turner’s suggestion that a five-member screening committee be comprised of two members of the PEDC, one member of the Paris City Council, and two members of the community.
By a 3-0 vote, the PEDC accepted Turner’s recommendation that he and Grubbs represent the PEDC, that Dr. AJ Hashmi represent the city council, and that Paris Junior College president Dr. Pam Anglin be one of the two representatives of the community.
Turner also had a recommendation for the other community representative – an official with one of the city’s major companies – but Turner said he had not been able yet to contact that person to confirm a willingness to serve.
The board agreed to begin advertising for the executive director’s job, but to delay considering applicants until July.
“I don’t think we should begin interviewing candidates until we have a full complement of board members in place,” Turner said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t start getting the word out there.”
Although a screening committee will be involved, all five PEDC members will be involved in the interview process to some degree, the board agreed.
Turner said he initially was in favor of a maximum salary of $120,000, but added he has been won over to the thinking that pay should be commensurate with experience.
“We all agree that we have to pay for what we get. Rather than put a number in there, I recommend we put ‘Negotiable,’ and see what we get.”
The job will be advertised as Open Until Filled,” with a note that screening of applications will begin on July 1.
Turner also said he was backing away from his previous recommendation that much of the executive director’s salary come from commissions earned on the basis of how many prospective new companies come in.
Anglin convinced him that’s not the way to go, Turner said.
She brought up that if you pay bonuses for companies, the PEDC would end up with a calling center “boiler room,” Turner said.
Calls will be made to other economic development corporations in the region to get an idea what others are paying.
“As we do the searching, the person we name is going to have substantial political skills, to work with politicians in Austin, and hopefully in Washington as well,” Turner said.
“True, it’s considered a marketing job, but I see it more as “a political major, with a minor in marketing,” Turner continued.
“We are going to need help from the political community,” Turner said, whether involving Congress, the Texas Legislature, or public officials.
The PEDC ended with a half-hour executive session regarding specific economic development prospects, but Clifford announced after the board reconvened in open session that no action was taken on any item.
Charles Richards, eParisExtra