ECD Team Members to Lead Regional “Base Camps” and Recruit Companies to TN
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner (ECD) Bill Hagerty today announced the selection of eight new regional directors as part of the reorganization of ECD resulting from the Jobs4TN initiative. The new regional directors will serve as the primary point-of-contact for Tennessee companies seeking state assistance with expansion or with accessing state services. In addition, Haslam and Hagerty also announced members of ECD’s national project management team, the division within ECD responsible for the recruitment of new companies to the state.
“We have selected a seasoned team of business and economic development professionals to implement our Jobs4TN program,” Haslam said. “As we move to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, this team will be an important part of our success in reaching our goals.”
“I’m very excited by the caliber of people joining our team and the willingness of our top ECD staffers to take on more responsibility,” Hagerty said. “These are the ‘go-to’ people companies both inside and outside Tennessee will rely upon to make projects happen. This team, and our collaborative approach with state and federal agencies, will become a key source of competitive advantage as we advance the Governor’s aggressive job growth agenda.”
ECD’s regional directors will reside in each of the nine regions outlined in the Jobs4TN plan and will have primary responsibility for working with existing companies, aligning workforce development strategies and developing a regional strategic plan. The regional directors include:
Northeast Tennessee – Former real estate executive Allen Borden, a Tennessean relocating from Beech Mountain, NC, will represent ECD in the region. Borden is a former real estate broker who has generated more than a million dollars in annual sales in addition to founding an investment company with $165 million under management. He also served as director of economic development for the city of Knoxville under former Mayor Victor Ashe and was an executive vice president for the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.
East Tennessee – Kirk Huddleston will represent the Department in Knoxville and the surrounding region. He is the former director of corporate and community development for Blaine Construction Corporation and worked with Fortune 500 companies, as well as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee, Scripps Networks, Denso and others. Huddleston has also served as chair of the Metro Knoxville Airport Authority.
Southeast Tennessee – The director of this region will be named at a later date.
Upper Cumberland – Former ECD specialist Rebecca Hargrove Smith will represent the agency in the upper Cumberland region. A graduate of the University of Tennessee and the Nashville School of Law, Smith administered the Three-Star program in 14 counties and previously worked in a senior role within local government affairs.
Northern Middle Tennessee – The region extending from Nashville north will be represented by former Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores COO Reggie Mudd. Rising through the ranks from store manager trainee to COO, Mudd’s tenure with the company coincided with Cracker Barrel’s expansion from 28 to 320 stores. A graduate of Centre College in Kentucky, he has extensive experience managing commercial, industrial, residential and historical properties. Mudd is also a member of the Gallatin Economic Development Advisory Board and the board of Cumberland Region Tomorrow.
Southern Middle Tennessee – Current ECD Three-Star Director Jamie Stitt has been named regional director of Southern Middle Tennessee. A graduate of Illinois State University, Stitt has been responsible for the development and implementation of community development strategies in more than 90 Tennessee counties as part of the Three-Star program. Prior to joining ECD in 2007, Stitt was director of Joint Economic and Community Development for Marshall County where she focused her efforts on new business creation.
Northwest Tennessee – An ECD veteran since 1993, Blake Swaggart has been a jobs development specialist since 1996 and was previously an economic development analyst with the South Carolina Department of Commerce. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and has a master’s degree in city planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as economic development certification from the University of Oklahoma. Swaggart has experience successfully developing projects in Shelby, Lauderdale, Dyer, Lake, Obion and Tipton counties.
Southwest Tennessee – Cary Vaughn comes to ECD from his position as president and CEO of the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to taking a leadership role at the chamber, Vaughn was president and CEO of Covenant Staffing Solutions in Memphis and was vice president of sales for a national technology company where he supervised a team of 28 managers generating more than $30 million in revenue. A graduate of Lambuth University and the Moench Center Leadership Institute at Belmont University, Vaughn led Millington’s move to the highest certification level in the Three-Star program.
Greater Memphis – J. Edward (Ted) Townsend III is the co-founder and former COO of arGentis Pharmaceuticals, Inc of Memphis, a privately-held bio-pharmaceutical company involved in the licensing, development and commercialization of therapies for auto-immune and ophthalmic diseases. During his tenure, the company successfully raised $2 million in capital from angel and institutional investors. A graduate of the University of Memphis, Townsend also served as executive vice president and managing partner of Agile Minds, LLC, a consulting firm in health care and life sciences and currently sits on the board of directors of arGentis and Life Science Tennessee.
In addition to the regional directors in charge of Tennessee’s “jobs base camps,” Governor Haslam and Commissioner Hagerty also named the following members of ECD’s Project Management team, responsible for the recruitment of new industry to Tennessee:
Lori Odom will serve as the team leader of the Project Management Team. Odom has been with ECD since 2004 and was formerly director of international development. During her tenure, Tennessee successfully recruited the Office of the Consulate General of Japan and opened the Tennessee-China Development Center in Beijing. A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Odom has led Tennessee trade missions to Canada, China, Europe and Japan.
Gina Brown currently works as a jobs development specialist at ECD with responsibility for projects in the Middle Tennessee region. She has been with ECD since 2008 and has successfully managed large scale investments such as Loews Hotels Shared Services Center, 3M and Asurion and currently manages projects representing more than $150 million in potential capital investment in Tennessee. Brown is a graduate of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
John Butler is currently an international projects specialist for ECD with responsibility for handling foreign direct investment projects in Tennessee and manages a portfolio totaling more than $500 million in potential capital investment in the state. He was formerly vice president of international development for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and managed export policy for the state of Tennessee during the mid-90’s and is a graduate of the University of Westminster-London.
Toby Compton comes to ECD from the Office of the Mayor in Nashville where he has served as legislative director since 2007. A graduate of Lipscomb University and Cumberland University, Compton advised Nashville’s mayor on legislative issues in the Tennessee General Assembly as well as a broad array of municipal boards and commissions. He gained recognition for his management of Nashville’s Emergency Operations Center during the flood of 2010.
Brenda Pfeiffer is currently a national recruitment specialist for ECD, having successfully managed more than 100 economic development projects since 2007 with capital investments totaling more than $500 million. Prior to joining ECD, she worked as economic development director for Hickman County where she successfully recruited more than 500 new jobs and $125 million in new capital investment. She is a graduate of Oakland University in Rochester, MI and in 2004 graduated from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.