Jeff Keeling, the Washington County Economic Development Council’s Director of Marketing and Community Relations, will leave the organization at the end of the month to resume a career in journalism.
“Jeff is a great guy,” WCEDC CEO Mitch Miller said Monday. “If he looked at that opportunity as something that would make him happy, as something that would be a good fit for him, then I’m happy for him. He was someone I could always trust, and when you throw any task at him, he would always do it better than what you envisioned.”
Keeling started with the council in early 2012, and worked over the past year and a half interacting with local news media and creating promotional materials for the organization and the community.
Miller said instead of hiring a full-time replacement for Keeling, his duties will likely be spread among the remaining employees and interns, when available.
He hopes the vacant position will allow him to hire a business development director, who will work to retain current businesses and attract new potential industries.
Since Miller moved from the vice president position to the CEO’s chair in March, his former duties, which were similar to the newly created business development position, have not had a single designated employee.
“It’s a high priority that we fill that,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, our main priorities are new jobs and investment. We need someone taking care of existing companies and the bigger picture things we have to worry about.”
For that job, Miller said he hopes to hire someone with several years of experience in economic development, preferably someone from within the community or state who is familiar with the state’s incentive and regulatory programs.
After Keeling leaves on Oct. 31, Miller said he hopes to interview and hire a business development director sometime in December.
The WCEDC may be able to hire a new employee in community relations in the next fiscal year, which begins next summer, Miller said.