Acting economic development director to retire

Published 6:28 pm Thursday, November 11, 2021

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Acting Economic Development Director Gregory Byrd will retire in January, but by then, the position should be filled.

Economic Development Authority board chairman Wesley King announced Byrd’s retirement near the end of its Nov. 10 meeting.

“We’re losing number one and number two within six months of each other,” King said.

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Kevin Hughes, the previous economic development director, was appointed by then-interim city manager Al Moor to be acting deputy city manager a year ago.

At the same time, Moor appointed Byrd, who had been the assistant director of economic development, to be the acting economic development director. Hughes is now the deputy city manager and Moor the city manager.

Byrd was hired as the city’s assistant director for economic development in April 2007 and before that, was the deputy executive director for Empowerment 2010 Inc., a non-profit managing workforce, business and community development programs and funding for the Norfolk/Portsmouth Empowerment Zone.

He also worked for the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance as its business development manager.

“He’s been a wonderful colleague and consummate professional,” Hughes said. “We’ve done a lot together. It’s been a long haul, and I appreciate all his help and support and service to the city.”

Hughes had started working for the city in 2005 as a senior business development manager before becoming the director of economic development in February 2010. He has assisted on more than 500 projects worth more than $1 billion in capital investment, helping bring more than 7,000 new jobs to the city. In his role as economic development director, Hughes also oversaw the Division of Tourism and the Suffolk Executive Airport, also serving as the deputy secretary-treasurer for the city’s Economic Development Authority.

King said he and Maria Herbert would represent the board in the interviews Nov. 19 with candidates to be the city’s new economic development director.

Hughes noted that Terry Smith, who had been a business development analyst, took the economic development manager position held previously by Deanna Holt, currently the business development manager.

The assistant director of economic development position, Hughes said, has not been advertised and would not be filled until a new economic development director is hired to allow that person to fill it.

The business development analyst position, though, has been advertised, Hughes said.

EDA board members praised both Byrd and Hughes for their service.

“You all have educated me beyond belief since I’ve come on the board,” King said, “and I still have a long ways to go. But we couldn’t have asked for better backing for everything that’s gone on to keep us out of trouble and bring industry here.

“All you have to do is look around the city and the industry that’s coming in and you can see the fabulous job that you all have done.”