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Economic Development Commission starts director search

WILLMAR -- As they launched the process Wednesday of finding a new executive director, members of the governing board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission made a handful of key decisions.

WILLMAR - As they launched the process Wednesday of finding a new executive director, members of the governing board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission made a handful of key decisions.
They plan to use an executive search firm to help them identify and screen candidates for the position. They have opted against naming an interim director.
They also agreed Wednesday to create a hiring committee, comprised of four members of the joint powers board - two representing the city of Willmar and two representing Kandiyohi County - and two members of the joint operations board to interview candidates and select finalists.
The EDC’s current executive director, Steve Renquist, announced his retirement in April. Renquist, 66, has led the Economic Development Commission for the past 11 years.
His last official day will be Aug. 1, although he has left the door open to continuing for a few more months until his replacement is chosen.
Members of the joint powers board had praise Wednesday for Renquist and his leadership.
“You’ve served us well,” said Marv Calvin, Willmar mayor.
Replacing him will take time and thought, board members agreed.
Harlan Madsen, a Kandiyohi County Commissioner and chairman of the EDC Joint Powers Board, said it’s an opportunity to review everything from the executive director’s job description to the EDC’s goals and priorities.
“This is extremely complicated. Lots of questions have to be raised,” he said. “We will undoubtedly be meeting a number of times.”
The board set a deadline of July 1 for receiving requests for proposals from search firms.
Although board members said they did not want to rush into the hiring process, they did not want to delay either.
“I think we need to have a little bit of a sense of urgency,” said Denis Anderson of the Willmar City Council. “The sooner we can get someone in, the better. We can work out the details, but let’s keep it going.”
Board members were somewhat divided over whether to engage a search firm to help with the process.
Willmar City Council member Ron Christianson favored having the board conduct its own search.
“I think we have what it takes to find a person of good qualities,” he said.
He objected to search firms as biased. “I don’t put a lot of faith in them. I put a lot of faith in the six of us sitting here,” he said.
Other board members pointed to the advantages of bringing in a search firm.
“With as much as we have going on and as much potential as there is in Kandiyohi County, we just want to make sure we’ve got the absolute best candidates we can find,” Anderson said.
Ultimately the board’s vote in favor of a search firm was unanimous.
“I’ll stand behind whatever we all decide,” Christianson said.
There also was an unofficial consensus that the new EDC director should possess many of the same qualities that were sought when Renquist was hired: sales and marketing skills, people skills and the ability to communicate well and build effective partnerships.

Related Topics: KANDIYOHI COUNTY
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