“It’s actually an extreme honor for me to lead this organization,” Smith said.
Smith, 35, has served as assistant director of the EDC for the past two years before he was unanimously appointed interim director during an emergency board meeting Monday.
“We are very confident that our staff can take the ball and run with it,” said Tommy Bowers, chairman of the EDC. “Don, Candice (Hill) and Jennifer (Forman) have played very large roles in projects since they have been on board, and we are sure they will continue to help our county to be successful.”
Smith will officially take over the reins in September from current EDC director Ed Gardner Jr., who accepted a position as vice president of economic and workforce development with the Birmingham Business Alliance.
Sept. 8 is Gardner’s last day on the job with the EDC.
Officials say the Birmingham Business Alliance works closely with the St. Clair County EDC.
“It saddens me to leave the SCCEDC, but at the same time I am excited about my continued role with them,” Gardner said.
Smith said the move from assistant director to interim director is a natural progression for him, and the transition should be smooth.
“I am happy to serve the SCCEDC in this capacity, and I am thankful for our board and county leadership,” Smith said. “Ed Gardner Jr. empowered all of us to take charge of projects, and because of that I feel he is leaving us in a really good position. We have a fantastic and very capable staff, and we will continue to move St. Clair County forward in economic development.”
He said the community and partners will notice no difference in the direction the EDC is headed.
Smith was born and raised in South Alabama, but he says St. Clair County is now his home.
“We love it here,” he said.
Smith and his wife, April, have three children and live in Moody.
He majored in accounting at Auburn University and worked with the city of Auburn Economic Development Council before taking the job as the St Clair County EDC assistant director in April 2007.
While with Auburn’s EDC, Smith assisted in retaining and expanding local industries there. He also helped recruit new industries for Auburn.
While serving as EDC assistant director, Smith specialized in industrial recruitment, industrial retention, park management and workforce development.
Local officials say they have high expectations for the new interim director.
“I have worked with him closely on many proposals and know that he will do a great job,” said Bob Barnett, chairman of the Pell City Industrial Development Board. “He is fully aware of everything going on with us, and I don’t think we will see any issues as a result of Ed’s departure.”
St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said the EDC remains in good hands with Smith’s appointment.
“Over the years I have worked with Don on projects and have been impressed with his abilities,” Batemon said. “I believe the SCCEDC is in good hands.”
Smith said the EDC is meeting or exceeding all goals outlined in its 2007 Strategic Plan, a five-year plan the EDC is now half-way through.
“We have a great staff; we have a great board and we have great elected officials and partners across this county,” Smith said. “Working together has been the secret to our success, and it will continue to be our secret to success.”