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Top EDC job remains unfilled

It's been nearly six months since the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission forced out its president and started looking for a new leader to focus on job creation and expansion in the region.

The search for the public-private business recruitment agency's new president has stayed quiet ever since.

The EDC won't release even the most basic details about the search, such as whether finalists have been selected or when the process is expected to conclude.

"I honestly don't know," said spokeswoman Maureen Brockman. "The search is ongoing."

Calls to the EDC's top board members who are most intimately involved in the search, including its Chairman David Pace, Orlando Magic President Alex Martins, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton and Florida Hospital President Lars Houmann, either went unreturned or were referred to Brockman.

One thing is clear, though. The search for a new EDC president is now coinciding with the largest shakeup in recent history of economic development officials from here to Tallahassee.

Last week Gov. Rick Scott fired the president of Enterprise Florida, the EDC's statewide counterpart that is based in Orlando, and pledged to reshape the way businesses are courted to expand or relocate here with a proposed Department of Commerce.

On top of that, new Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs has elevated the county's office of economic development, which currently has an acting manager. Former Mayor Rich Crotty eliminated the top position in that office.

And the City of Orlando is operating with an interim director of economic development.

At a time of record unemployment, there are leadership changes or uncertainty inside all of the top economic development posts in Orlando.

In other words, there's nobody in the jobs that are tasked with creating new jobs for the region — at least nobody permanent.

That raises a couple questions. Are all these economic development positions even necessary or are they redundant? And, if they are needed, what kind of people should fill them?

One key qualification needs to be a willingness to be held accountable by showing real results. Just last year, for example, the EDC had to concede that it never verified the number of jobs it said it created each year and pledged to do so in the future.

Pace, president of New Broad Street Cos., is leading the search for a new EDC president as well as overseeing the daily operations of the group, which receives about 35 percent of its budget from taxpayers.

He isn't receiving a paycheck for his work and told me last year he wasn't interested in applying for the job himself.

One pair of names floated as candidates is Crotty and his former chief of staff George Rodon.

Asked about his interest in the job, Rodon simply said, "no comment." Crotty did not return phone calls.

Tupperware CEO knighted

Next time Tupperware CEO Rick Goings' Isleworth neighbors see him taking out the garbage, they may want to call him "Sir."

Goings was recently made a knight in France as part of the French Legion of Honor to recognize his work for women and disadvantaged children.

Tupperware is often credited with helping women in emerging markets improve their quality of life by allowing them to start a business selling the company's products.

The event in Paris was one stop during a globe-trotting month for Goings. He also traveled to Iraq to speak to business women and college students before heading to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The French honor puts him in the same company as Colin Powell and Robert Redford.

Back at home, though, Goings said he expects life to stay relatively the same.

"I will still take out the garbage," he said.

Beth Kassab can be reached at bkassab@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5448. Read her blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/thebottomline.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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