The Halifax Industrial Development Authority’s board of directors has a new chairman – Rick Harrell. The board elected Harrell, who previously held the role of secretary/treasurer, in its Friday morning meeting.

Robert Bates, a branch manager at Benchmark Community Bank, previously served as IDA board chairman.

Harrell also serves on the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority. The South Boston resident is the previous owner of R.O. Harrell Trucking Co.

Harrell recently served as a member of the Virginia Redistricting Commission, as well. He was one of only eight citizen members, and the only citizen member from Southside Virginia, along with eight legislators, tasked with drawing new legislative maps to submit to the General Assembly. It marked the first time Virginia citizens had been involved in the redistricting process.

At Friday’s meeting, the IDA board also re-elected Jeremy Satterfield as vice chair, and elected member Nancy Pool as secretary/treasurer. Satterfield is the manager of TechSpark Virginia at Microsoft. Pool previously served as president of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce for 28 years.

Rounding out the IDA board of directors are members Jeremy Catron, plant manager at Huber Engineered Woods, Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, chief, workforce development officer at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and Ryland Clark, community relations and engagement manager at Hitachi Energy.

With a new slate of officers to lead its board of directors and a relatively new executive director, Kristy Johnson, at its helm, the IDA is poised to start its strategic planning process. On that note, the board had an introduction with Beth Doughty and the strategic planning consultant team at Friday’s meeting.

Doughty is an economic/community development professional. She previously led the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce as its president/CEO and held the role of executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

The IDA board will outline next steps for the strategic planning process in a joint meeting with the Halifax County Board of Supervisors next month, Johnson said. That meeting is scheduled for April 15 at 8:30 a.m. in the main board room at 1100 Confroy Drive, Suite I.

Following a lengthy closed session discussion at Friday’s meeting, the board also voted to extend Sunshine Mills’ lease of its building on Sunshine Drive in Halifax for one year and voted to amend ChemQuest’s lease of a portion of its building on Confroy Drive, allotting the company an additional 200 square feet of space.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at