Nine seek developer job

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nine people have applied for the job of industrial developer at Lewisburg City Hall. Five are Marshall County residents. Seven of the nine were willing to be named publicly. The other two are county residents who preferred to remain anonymous, although their applications are public record.

The successful applicant's salary might range from $35,000 to $70,000, according to City Hall discussions. Lewisburg's next industrial developer will succeed Terry Wallace. He was paid $66,000 annually. The city manager hires almost all city employees, but City Manager Eddie Fuller is retiring Oct. 29. The mayor may hire employees when there's no manager.

David Patrick Orr of Lewisburg, Jason Terry of Cornersville and Greg Lowe of Lewisburg are the three local applicants who spoke of their interest in the job early this week. Lowe is the city's codes enforcement officer and stormwater director. Terry is self-employed in real estate and insurance. Orr has a farm, worked at banks here before running his business elsewhere, selling it and moving back here.

One of the out-of-county applicants, B. Shane Burris of Lake City, Tenn., was the industrial development director for Monroe County for 18 years, but was "let go" after a new mayor was elected, he said in a weekend interview. Previously, he was a loan officer in the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in Nashville.

"I know lots of people around the state," Burris said, adding that he knows Lewisburg.

He's also dealt with wastewater treatment plant projects and spoke about how money from the state and federal governments might be sought to help the $13 million expansion for Lewisburg's plant.

His business administration bachelor of science degree is from the University of Tennessee and he's been certified by the National Business Development Council as an economic business professional.

Burris "brought an extensive amount of business" to Monroe County, he said.

Dean Barber of Fort Wayne, Ind., said he is "working with economic development friends in North Alabama and South Carolina and possibly Mississippi." He's helping friends who are business consultants. He's also writing freelance reports and has been published in Site Selection, a magazine focusing on corporate real estate strategy and area economic development.

Whether he and the job would be a "good fit," is unknown, he said. He has "a lot of friends in Tennessee" and family ties in Tennessee. "I do like Tennessee," he said.

He was the business editor for the Birmingham News and previously wrote for the Ledger-Inquirer of Columbus, Ga.

Greg Lowe, a former editor of the Marshall County Tribune, left the newspaper business to work at City Hall.

"I care about the community," Lowe said. "I've been assisting in industrial recruiting ... for the city, so I feel like I have some knowledge of what it entails..."

Born and raised in Lewisburg, Lowe attended Columbia State Community College and he has had mixed emotions about the industrial development recruiter's job.

"I did go back and forth on whether I should apply because I'm not unhappy with what I'm doing," he said, "but having done some of it in the past few years, I don't think I can make anybody any promises on what can be brought here, but I think I can do a good job."

All nine candidates were asked whether they thought a newspaper story mentioning their application would threaten their household income, or prompt their employers to fire them.

"They could care less," Orr said, explaining that his compensation as a volunteer to support Marshall County High School football could be doubled and he'd still not make any more or less money from that work. He's the game announcer for the MCHS Tigers.

He led several banks in Lewisburg, has a farm here and had a business in Madison and sold it. He is from Lewisburg and worked in Nashville.

He's been president of the Chamber, Rotary, the University of Tennessee Alumni Association and a coach for Babe Ruth baseball.

"I don't have a magic wand ... but I've got some ideas that might be worthwhile," he said noting this is a good place for warehouses because of its central position in America. One of his friends has a warehouse in Georgia with 60 employees who are paid $17-20 an hour.

"And a lot of stuff comes from the Port of New Orleans," Orr said, endorsing a trip to visit the port director.

Other suggestions include cutting the grass around the city-owned building in the business park and consulting with businesses here since one of the fastest ways to increase employment is to help the existing businesses grow.

He suggests asking Nissan North America at Franklin what businesses in California might want to move here.

He had considered applying for the job as city manager and discounted that idea saying he thought being the industrial recruiter "was more my cup of tea."

Dennis Jarvis II of Smithers, W. Va., said he "was not ready to do an interview yet" with the Tribune, but said he's employed and there's no reason not to be public about his job search.

He's working in a job funded through a grant that expired at the end of the year, so he's looking for work now.

The only woman to apply for the job preferred to remain anonymous, but she said she has a "vast background in real estate, finance, accounting and business operations, in general." She's supervised several employees and has an associates' degree in business and finance.

Richard Weachter of Henderson, Tenn., is unemployed, having most recently been the president of Nationwide Studios in Gallatin, specializing in photos of preschool age children.

Weachter has a grasp for the work involved in industrial recruiting, but it's from the property buyers' perspective, not the sellers', he said.

Lewisburg's City Council voted to have applicants write an essay saying what they would do as the industrial recruiter, but Weachter said he probably wouldn't since he had no experience in the job, so he wouldn't be able to explain what he thought should be done.

"What I would do is OJT (on the job training) and nobody is going to hire someone like that," Weachter said. "That's my story and I'm sticking to it. If they're willing to take a chance on an unknown entity, then I'm willing to try, but I suspect they're not."

The only other applicant is a resident of Marshall County who said he didn't want to be named in a story like this because it might make him look bad to his employer.

The deadline for applications was 4 p.m. Friday.