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Published: Saturday, 2/12/2005

Help wanted: Group seeks applicants for CEO opening

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Regional Growth Partnership has taken the traditional step of buying help-wanted newspaper advertisements for the tricky task of attracting qualified CEO candidates to run an agency that has an uncertain future.

The growth partnership, which is charged with creating jobs in an 11-county region, including Lucas County, had its funding cut this year by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

The growth partnership, which traditionally has received $1.35 million from a 0.4-mill port authority levy for job creation, would like to raise money and become privately funded.

But it asked for a year's worth of funding from the port authority board to bridge the gap. The board approved six months.

Bill Brennan, chairman of the growth partnership board, said the agency would have to sell the job as a chance for someone to shape and define a regional organization.

The idea of the growth partnership has been under fire because the decade-old agency has in the past spent its share of port authority levy dollars in the entire 11-county region, even though Lucas County property owners pay the tax.

This year, the growth partnership sent the message to the port authority board, which collects the levy, that it would prefer to recruit industry out of the public spotlight with privately raised funds.

That led the port authority board to cut the agency's funding.

Eileen Granata, the partnership's interim chief operating officer, has been running the agency since 2003 when then-CEO Don Jakeway left to become director of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Ms. Granata said she does not have plans to apply for the position.

The growth partnership agreed to pay $50,000 to executive search firm Waverly Partners to find a new chief.

In addition to a national search, the agency also purchased an advertisement to run in The Blade's classifieds section tomorrow, said John Gibney, spokesman for the growth partnership.

A copy of the advertisement, provided by Mr. Gibney, says the ideal candidate would already be running an economic development agency.

"Experience with automotive, manufacturing, and technology industries is desirable," it says.

A candidate also could be a second-in-command at an existing agency, the ad says.

"There could be some qualified candidates in the region, and they should be included," Mr. Gibney said.

Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick at: ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6077.



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