LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Economic Development Corporation had expected to welcome a new director this week.
It was announced on Monday that the group will resume its search instead.
Roger Johnson was supposed to take the reins of economic development in Scotland County on Wednesday. But Johnson, who worked as the development assistant to Wilmington’s city manager, notified the EDC last week that he has accepted a similar position in the city of Greenville. That city has been without an economic development manager since April.
“It was surprising that we could get somebody with his background and we thought we were working out something wonderful,” County Manager Kevin Patterson said.
The EDC has searched for a director since the position was vacated in November 2014 by Greg Icard, the only person to serve in the position since it was created in 2008. Since Icard’s departure, Patterson has conducted the bulk of the county’s industrial recruitment efforts.
“We’re going to keep moving forward: we’ve been really active, said Patterson. “The week before Thanksgiving we actually responded to three different projects, so we’re going to keep up maintaining our relationships and responding to projects until we can get the right developer on board.”
The county was going to pay the new director an annual salary of $84,300.
Johnson is expected to begin the Greenville post on Dec. 14, with a starting salary of $90,001.60 — about $10,000 more than his predecessor, Carl Rees, after 18 years with the city.
Responsibilities of the Scotland County EDC director include industrial recruitment, workforce development, and other efforts in support of a vibrant business environment locally. The job description also involves watching industry news, tracking company growth, making contacts, and responding in a timely manner to issues that might avert a business’ interest in the county.
The EDC will meet later this week to discuss its options as it resumes the director search. According to Patterson, Johnson was selected from a pool that included other viable applicants who may still have interest in the job.
“We’d like to have somebody who has experience, but really what we’re looking for is the right person,” he said. “If they have the right set of skills we can develop the necessary knowledge.”
While in Wilmington, Johnson was responsible for strategy, lead generation and oversight of all economic activities including business recruitment, expansion, retention and job growth. He managed site locations, facility expansions, development agreements and incentive agreements as well as collaboration with nonprofit agencies, governmental partners and private industries.
From 2003 to 2010, Johnson managed economic development activities for Progress Energy in Florida, where he oversaw management of infrastructure projects for business recruitment, retention and expansion of large industrial, commercial and institutional customers.
Johnson could not be reached for comment.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.