New EDA appointees learning the ropes

Published 9:47 pm Monday, July 20, 2009

The two new appointees to the Economic Development Authority certainly aren’t new to Suffolk, but they both admit they’re on a learning curve with the authority.

“I have a great deal to learn,” said John D. “Jack” Eure Jr., who was appointed to the board by Mayor Linda T. Johnson. “I hope I’ll be a fast learner.”

Local car dealer Mike Duman, also recently appointed to the body, said he hopes the experience of running multiple businesses will give him insight into what current and potential business owners need to operate.

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“I’m going through a learning process,” Duman said. “I feel like I understand how businesses work and operate.”

Not only is Eure a new appointee, but he also occupies a new seat on the authority. A restructuring of all city boards and commissions this month gave the mayor her own appointee on each of the bodies.

Eure describes himself as a “small-town, country lawyer,” who does general practice law in Suffolk. From his office on Market Street, he handles wills, estates, corporations and other “office practice” types of law, he said.

Eure finished law school in 1967 and passed the bar examination the same year. Soon after, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and signed up to be an infantry officer. However, he wound up doing nothing but legal work the entire time he was in the service.

“I never got sent to Vietnam,” he said. While he was in the service, the Marine Corps began its own Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and he worked with it briefly before leaving to practice civilian law.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be here ever since,” he said.

Through his work with corporations, Eure has had some experience with economic development, and he served a term on the city’s Planning Commission several years ago. He said he will be watching his work on the authority carefully to avoid conflicts of interest with his clients at his law practice.

“I consider it an honor to serve on the Economic Development Authority,” he said. “Suffolk’s just beautifully located. I personally would like to see us grow.”

Eure said the authority must help to improve the downtown area, but also must learn to “see beyond the intersection of Main and Washington.”

“On the northern end … we’ve got a really great opportunity there,” he said.

Mike Duman, who owns car dealerships in Suffolk and Franklin, replaces Jim Shirley on the authority. Shirley resigned before he could attend meeting in the wake of the forced resignation of Economic Development Director Cynthia Cave.

“I was somewhat surprised that Councilman Barlow called me about it,” Duman said.

Duman deferred his decision for about a week, wanting to consult with others on the time commitment involved.

“I wanted to get a realistic idea how much time would be required for me to do an adequate job,” he said. “I decided to go ahead and give it a shot.”

Duman has lived in Suffolk since 1977 and has run a business since 1980. His dealerships are really four businesses in one, he says, because each hosts a collision center, rental department and service department, in addition to sales.

“I think I have quite a good deal of insight into some of the concerns that businesses are facing … using my business experience, common-sense decisions, which a good businessman does on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Duman said he would like to see more jobs created, and that the way to do that is to offer meaningful incentives for new businesses and offer support to existing businesses.

“I’d like to see us doing things that are going to have a good return on investment,” he said. “I’d like to see a little bit of emphasis placed on businesses that have been here for some time and have supported the city over the years.”

“From my standpoint, I think employment is the key issue right now.”

The EDA will meet next on Aug. 12.