After firing the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority’s executive director, Brian Brown, in a Thursday afternoon meeting, the Halifax IDA’s board of directors met in closed session Monday morning to discuss the IDA’s future.
As of press time Tuesday, it was unknown how the IDA would proceed with plans to hire a new executive director.
Attempts to reach Robert Bates, chairman of the IDA, were unsuccessful as of press time Tuesday.
Brown was stunned by the news that the board had decided to end his employment as leader of the IDA, but he enjoyed his time working to promote industrial and economic development in Halifax County. The Buena Vista native was hired as executive director of the Halifax County IDA in August 2019.
“I appreciate the opportunity that I was given here. I hope I left it in a better place than I found it,” Brown said. “I will begin looking for the next opportunity.”
Brown, who is currently a South Boston resident, added he is “still willing to help in any way I can with the business community.” He said he had no indication that the IDA board was going to make the decision to end his employment ahead of Thursday’s meeting.
“It was a shock,” he admitted. “I thought things were going pretty well.”
Bates said on Friday the board had decided they “needed to move in a new direction,” and in order to do that, they had to fire Brown as the IDA’s executive director.
Since he is no longer the leader of the IDA, Brown said he knows he is going to “miss out on the opportunities here” in Halifax County. Those opportunities for economic and industrial development are what brought Brown to Halifax County in the first place.
“It was something that I thought was a very progressive area and an area for growth. There are some great opportunities here,” Brown said.
One of the endeavors led by Brown in his time as leader of the IDA was the opening of a large-scale industrial hemp processing facility, Golden Piedmont Labs. The Halifax IDA purchased the Houghton Avenue building in South Boston that formerly housed the Blue Ridge Beverage Company, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the newly revamped hemp processing facility on Oct. 15.
Brown noted the county also has “challenges,” citing the environmental problems at the former Daystrom furniture building, now known as the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center, as an example.
Overall, Brown said it has been a pleasure for him to work for the Halifax County IDA and be a part of the community.
“I truly say this was a very inviting community,” he commented.
Prior to becoming executive director of the Halifax County IDA, Brown had served as economic development administrator for the City of Buena Vista and the City of Roanoke and most recently as a market executive for real estate developers Countryside Service Company of Staunton.