Finley named interim ECEDA directorPublished 4:00am Sunday, June 2, 2013
Longtime project manager Leisa Finley was named interim executive director of the Elmore County Economic Development Authority by the group’s board of directors Wednesday.
Finley first joined the economic development organization in 2006 and also served as interim director between the tenures of the first ECEDA chief, Eric Basinger, and Barry Mask, who resigned Wednesday to become CEO of the Alabama Association of Realtors.
“I appreciate the confidence the board has in me,” Finley said Friday. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Lee Greer, the chairman of the ECEDA board of directors, praised Finley’s “ability to see projects through to completion.”
“She’s also shown great willingness to go out and help different municipalities to recruit jobs to their areas,” Greer, an executive with Community Hospital in Tallassee, said.
Finley and Greer said there are a number of project that are nearing fruition, and Elmore County residents should see some announcements coming out in the next few months.
The key goal on the horizon for ECEDA, Greer said, is to “continue to try and unify the municipalities and county as a whole.”
“The economy has been tough the last three or four years,” he said, “but I feel like (Elmore County) has held our own.”
Finley said in addition to seeking new businesses to move into the county, it’s vital to cater to companies that are already here, to make sure they stay or, even better, expand. She used the example of GKN, the British-owned aerospace plant with a production facility in the Tallassee Industrial Park.
“There’s not a state in the southeast or a place in Europe that’s not constantly courting GKN to get out of Alabama and into their state,” Finley said.
The company already had a heavy presence in Tallassee, she said, and recently completed an expansion that took their local workforce close to 1,000.
Greer said the board named Finley in an interim role to examine ECEDA’s structure, and consider a reorganization and return to the original close relationship it enjoyed with the county commission, it’s primary funder.
Commission Chairman Joe Faulk praised the board’s decision, saying Finley’s long tenure with the organization made her the perfect person to take the reins. Finley noted ECEDA “couldn’t survive without the commission’s help,” and commissioners’ support “means more than anything.”
ECEDA’s board is made up of representatives of the county’s seven municipalities, the county commission and board of education and the chambers of commerce in Wetumpka, Millbrook and Tallassee. There are also a number of at-large positions filled primarily with business leaders from across Elmore County.
There were proposals submitted to begin a formal search for the next executive director, Greer said, but “while we’re in the planning stages, we’re confident Leisa can hold everything down.”
“We’re in good shape and I hope that ECEDA can help the county continue being a leader in economic development,” he said.