SNOW HILL – Nearly a year after the departure of the county’s economic development director, the position remains vacant.
While the Worcester County Economic Development Department’s deputy director has stepped up in the interim, county leaders say they’ve delayed hiring a replacement for former director Merry Mears in order to reevaluate the position and its goals.
“We are going to try to define exactly what we’re looking for in an economic development administrator,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said. “It’s my feeling that Merry Mears left and her predecessor left because they grew frustrated with our lack of interest in what they brought forward. If we are not going to support the ideas of the economic development person, we need to redefine the position.”
Mears served as the county’s director of economic development from 2015 until early 2018, when she left to take a position with Devreco and Gillis and Glikerson. Before Mears, Bill Badger led the county’s economic development efforts. When he left in 2015, he specifically cited a lack of support from county officials.
When asked about the delay in hiring someone to lead the department last week, Commissioner Diana Purnell directed inquiries to the county’s human resources director.
“The person to answer that question is (Human Resources Director) Stacey Norton,” she said.
In response to an inquiry on the position and the process, Worcester County Public Information Officer Kim Moses said, “This is an ongoing vacancy that hasn’t been filled yet.”
Mitrecic, however, alluded to the frustration felt by previous directors and the commissioners’ plan to discuss what they felt the role of that individual should be. He expects that discussion to take place in late January or early February.
“We’re going to get together and decide what we’re looking for from an economic development administrator and move forward from there,” he said.
Commissioner Chip Bertino agreed. He said the county needed to determine what the objectives for that individual should be before he or she was hired.
“We haven’t yet decided how we want to move forward with economic development…,” he said. “There have been so many other things we’ve been working on.”