BRADENTON - If there's one thing the region needs, it's more jobs, and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it may have found the man for the job of creating more jobs.
Eric Basinger, 33, whose previous position was with the Elmore County Economic Development Authority in Wetumpka, Ala., will be taking over as the new director of the Economic Development Council on June 1.
He is replacing Nancy Engel, who announced in September that she wanted to step down after 25 years in the position. She said in an e-mail that Basinger's age never came up during the application or interview process, and that because the EDC is a private organization, it cannot release his salary.
"After a national search and in-depth discussions with Eric, we are convinced he will effectively lead our economic development efforts in this very challenging time," said Bob Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. "We are grateful that Nancy is going to stay on with the EDC as a team member, focusing on business retention and workforce services, and be available to facilitate Eric's introduction to the community and the region."
Basinger is an 11-year veteran of economic development. In Elmore County, Ala., he helped to create its Economic Development Authority and, since 2003, worked to create 1,292 jobs and more than $97 million in new capital investments, according to a press release from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.
"I was really impressed with what I saw," he said of his visits to Manatee County. He thought, "This would seem to be a great place to live and work. I just loved it, and loved the people."
He has the professional designation of Certified Economic Developer from the International Economic Development Council. Basinger has a master's degree in public administration with specialization in planning and economic development from Auburn University, and a bachelor of science degree with a major in history and a minor in international relations from the University of West Alabama.
Basinger is married and said he's looking forward to moving to Manatee County.
"Manatee County is well-positioned to attract and retain high-wage jobs, and the EDC's track record in making that happen is indisputable," Basinger said in the press release. "The EDC's strong, collaborative relationships with local governments, regional stakeholders and state resources provide a foundation for us to expedite local economic expansion as the global economy recovers."
The Economic Development Council's chairman, Bob Turner, said that Basinger is arriving at an exciting time for the county.
"He is well qualified to lead the development of a new, three-year strategy for economic development," Turner said. "With Nancy continuing to serve as part of the team, we believe Eric will be able to move quickly into this vital position of leadership in Manatee County."
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