Norfolk economic development director departs [The Virginian-Pilot :: ]
(Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 11--Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Stone Brewing is the 10th largest brewery in the United States. It is the 10th largest craft brewery.
Development Director Steven J. Anderson has resigned under pressure. He held the post less than a year.
"Rather than continue down the road with somebody that had lost the confidence of the senior administration, it's better to go ahead and make the change now and move ahead," said Councilman Barclay Winn.
"This is strictly a personnel issue," said Mayor Paul Fraim.
City Manager Marcus Jones hired Anderson in late August from St. Mary's County, Md., where he had led the Department of Economic and Community Development for less than a year.
A city spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon that Assistant City Manager Ron Williams Jr., who oversees economic development for the city, would handle the duties of the development director. A search to hire Anderson's replacement will begin soon.
The city's development department operated without a full-time chief for two years following the 2011 retirement of Rod Woolard. Assistant Director Chuck Rigney served as interim director during that time.
Anderson had been wooing Stone Brewing of Escondido, Calif., to open an East Coast brewery in Norfolk, which is a finalist for such a plan.
Anderson attended Tuesday's City Council meeting and was on the job then. The City Council discussed real estate matters in a closed session that night.
Jim McDonnell, a member of the city's Economic Development Authority, said Rigney could have been put in the job.
"I think there was definitely some risk bringing someone in from the outside," he said. "It would have been much less risky to have had Chuck in place."
Reached on his cellphone, Anderson said the city is in a good position to bring in development and that he appreciated the opportunity to work for Norfolk. He relocated his family here.
"My tenure at the city was very productive and I left on what I believe are good terms," he said.
Anderson was hired at a salary of $130,000. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Whittier College.
Among developments in Norfolk:
-- An outlet mall will open on the site of the Lake Wright Golf Course on the city's eastern border.
-- The nascent Downtown Arts & Design District is growing, including the opening of The Parlor on Granby, a cafe and event venue.
-- A hotel and conference center long pursued by the city is under construction at the corner of Granby and Main streets and will open as a Hilton in 2017.
-- New bars, restaurants and residential projects have begun or are planned for downtown, including at the long vacant Union Mission, and on Colley Avenue near Old Dominion University.
-- The city has contracted with The Cordish Cos. to renovate Waterside mall and fill it with nightclubs, restaurants and live music.
Stone Brewing is the nation's 10th-largest craft brewery.
City officials have discussed the possibility of a brewery near Harbor Park on the Elizabeth River, and Stone Brewing officials toured the area by helicopter and boat on a recent visit.
Fraim has said the state would likely offer an incentive package to Stone Brewing to help land the business.
Patrick Wilson, 757-222-3893, firstname.lastname@example.org
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