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■ Special Report: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


Shakeup at Virginia Economic Development


Partnership Restructuring ‘to keep up with the times’ takes effect while the search for new CEO continues Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story appeared on Aug. 31 on VirginiaBusiness.com.


W Gundersen


by Paula C. Squires and Jessica Sabbath is hired.


hile it is still searching for a new CEO, the state’s primary business recruitment organization, the Vir-


ginia Economic Development Partnership, has implemented a major reorganization plan. VEDP’s restructu ring includes reassign-


ments of some key staffers and the departure of two longtime vice presidents, Liz Povar and Mike Lehmkuhler. Their jobs were eliminated when the restructuring integrated the divisions they headed into a new Business Investment Division that will be led by a yet-to-be-hired new vice president. The shakeup of the VEDP’s


internal operations has been in the making for “a good 18 months to two years,” said interim President and CEO Dan Gundersen, and is designed to keep Virginia competi- tive with other states. Nonetheless, the restructuring


and loss of two senior staffers caught at least one board member off guard. David Hudgins, a direc- tor on the 24-member VEDP board, questions why the change is taking place before a new CEO


62 OCTOBER 2016 VEDP expected in September to begin


reviewing resumes from an executive search firm, with hopes of naming a permanent CEO by the end of the year. Asked if he was applying for the job, Gundersen said, “That’s a professional and personnel decision that is between me and the search committee.” The reorganization took effect on Aug. 15,


three months before the state’s oversight agency, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commis- sion (JLARC), is expected to deliver a report on VEDP’s operations and performance. Gundersen emailed a memo to about 800


VEDP officials and partners throughout the state on Aug. 18 and Aug. 23, detailing the reorganiza- tion and noting that the first phase of changes includes “new faces and names in some key leader- ship roles …” The later email also noted that, “after many


years of service,” Povar, the former vice president for business expansion, and Lehmkuhler, the former vice president for business attraction “are moving on from VEDP.”


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