The search continues for an executive director for the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, with board members hearing a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting by the Berkley Group.

A total of 14 candidates are being considered for the position.

In March, three representatives of the Berkley Group offered words of advice to Halifax County Industrial Development Authority board members and search committee members who are looking for that perfect fit in a new IDA executive director.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the search for that “perfect fit” continued during an IDA meeting held at Southern Virginia Technology Park, with Margaret Schmitt and Kimball Payne of Berkley Group updating board members on the search thus far, according to Kristy Johnson, interim executive director.

“They were here this morning, and (in closed session) they reviewed the process so far,” said Johnson, adding the group tasked with vetting candidates for the position has created a job profile and advertised the position.

“The board is pleased with the applicants as were the consultants,” said Johnson.

The Berkley Group will narrow down that list of candidates and set up final interviews before the next board meeting, according to Johnson, with the board looking to interview four or five candidates.

The recruitment profile describes the county and its IDA to prospective candidates, identifies the priorities of the IDA board, outlines issues, challenges and opportunities the new executive director will face and describes the “ideal” candidate in terms of qualifications, leadership style and desired characteristics.

The Halifax County IDA is looking for its next executive director to be professionally competent, with excellent communications skills and strong leadership skills who promotes teamwork and collaboration and has a record of successful business recruitment, retention and expansion.

Performance expectations include managing and improving IDA properties, overseeing the completion of a new shell building and being an active and visible participant in community activities.

The IDA executive director position has been open since previous executive director Matt Leonard departed on Nov. 1 after the announcement of his departure was made in September when he and the IDA board executed a separation agreement.

Leonard, who has a background in civil engineering, became IDA director in 2012 when he succeeded outgoing IDA director Mike Sexton.

IDA board passes budget

The IDA board unanimously passed a $2,117,705 balanced budget for FY 2020 on Tuesday.

The 2020 budget reflects $1,192,320 in earned income, the same as the prior budget year but a decrease from $386,802 to $177,889 in contributions, not including an appropriation of $225,000 from Halifax County.

The expense side of the ledger includes an increase from $55,300 to $70,686 in administrative and general expenses and an increase from $272,500 to $293,925 in payroll expenses.

The capital improvement account for 2020 reflects an increase from $120,000 to $155,091, and $20,000 also is budgeted for site professional services.

VEDP program update

Virginia Economic Development Partnership initiated a project in 2019 ranking all industrial sites in Virginia in excess of 25 acres.

It’s a tiered system whereby information on each site is ranked inside a DEQ database, so a project or site consultant can go through and see which sites are most ready for development based on those rankings, explained Johnson.

Six sites in Halifax County, not all of them IDA-owned sites, are ranked in the first phase of the program, Johnson explained.

The database also identifies “gaps” in site preparation, so if a certain site lacks a specific study or piece of information, the owner of that site can fill that gap to make it more attractive for development.