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ANTHONY


ROMANELLO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HENRICO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, HENRICO COUNTY


In April, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Amazon.com Inc. would be bringing a new, 2.6 million-square-foot robotics fulfillment center to Henrico, adding more than 1,000 jobs to Amazon’s existing workforce of more than 27,000 employees in Virginia. The facility is anticipated to launch in 2022. It’s one of several economic development wins secured under the leadership of Romanello, a former Henrico County deputy manager who was appointed head of the Henrico Economic Development Authority in March 2019. Before coming to Henrico in 2016, he was county admin- istrator for Stafford County and had served as West Point’s town manager. Ranking second in the state as the locality with the most jobs, Henrico has seen major investments announced in recent years, including the $2.3 billion arena-anchored GreenCity development planned for the former Best Products headquarters site. A Henrico native, Romanello holds a bachelor’s degree


BUDDY RIZER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, LOUDOUN COUNTY


Loudoun’s economic development leader is also the self-styled “Godfather of Data Center Alley,” reflecting the fact that the county has the world’s largest concentration of data centers. More than 70% of all internet traffic passes through the county’s Ashburn area, and Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoſt are continually building more there. The increased demand for cloud ser- vices and streaming video from remote workers during the pandemic caused some data center development projects to get fast-tracked in 2020. The pandemic also had Rizer focused on aiding the county’s small businesses. Loudoun doled out millions in relief funds via its


COVID-19 Business Interruption Fund and allocated $250,000 in federal CARES Act money to help local restaurants offset costs for switching to outdoor dining service. Rizer, a former disc jockey and radio station owner, holds a bachelor’s degree from Towson University. He sits on the boards of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Northern Virginia Community College Foundation.


ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE ABOUT VIRGINIA: Virginia is its best when we act as one. While my job is to promote Loudoun, I recognize we all have a vested interest in Virginia’s economic development success.


in history and American government from the University of Virginia and a Master of Public Administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. He serves on the board of Needle’s Eye Ministries.


ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE ABOUT VIRGINIA: Get rid of humidity.


FAVORITE VACATION: Anywhere my family is, and sand is not.


Virginia is its best when we act as one.” BUDDY RIZER


DOUG SMITH PRESIDENT AND CEO, HAMPTON ROADS ALLIANCE, NORFOLK


LEONARD SLEDGE DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, RICHMOND


Sledge was instrumental in helping Richmond bring in more than $409 million in new capital investment, adding more than 1,000 new jobs this past fiscal year. He participated in the city’s selection process to


bring Urban One Inc.’s proposed $562.5 million ONE Casino + Resort before voters in a November refer- endum. If approved, the project, which would be the only Black-owned casino in the nation, could generate more than 1,300 jobs and $170 million in new tax


revenue over its first five years. Prior to joining Richmond city government, Sledge served as executive director


of the Henry County, Georgia, Development Authority and was director of economic development for the city of Hampton. He also has led William & Mary’s Office of Economic Development. Named one of North America’s top 50 economic developers for 2019 by manage- ment consulting firm Consultant Connect, Sledge holds undergraduate degrees from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He is an avid fan of football and Marvel movies who also enjoys fishing in his spare time.


Collaboration is paying off for the Hampton Roads area, and Doug Smith is leading the way as head of the Hampton Roads


Alliance, an organization that represents 11 municipalities and more than 70 private sector investors. It was the first regional group to present an integrated, prioritized list of infrastructure needs that it would like to have funded through legislation pending in the U.S. Congress. The orga- nization also has pushed for offshore wind development, among other initiatives.


Smith has headed the Alliance since September 2019, bringing with him a wealth of experience in city manage- ment and economic development. A native of Portsmouth, he served as city manager in Norfolk and deputy city manager in Virginia Beach and Portsmouth, where he also was chief plans and policy officer and economic develop- ment director. A former member of the Portsmouth City Council, he served in the private sector as CEO of Kaufman & Canoles Consulting, where he worked with national and local developers, municipalities, higher education institu- tions and corporations.


www.VirginiaBusiness.com 43


Buddy Rizer photo by Will Schermerhorn; Leonard Sledge photo by Rick DeBerry


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