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County to discuss how to fill post

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Published:   |   Updated: August 30, 2013 at 11:43 AM

BROOKSVILLE - County Commissioner Wayne Dukes said he is in favor of hiring a headhunting company to conduct a nationwide search for a new economic development director to make sure the board has credible recommendations and can get someone hired by year's end.

That will end up costing money but it is preferable to doing this search in-house, Dukes said.

This position is too important to entrust it to a county office, and he wants to make sure someone doesn't get the job simply because he or she is a friend of someone.

After 11 years on the job, Mike McHugh last week announced his resignation as head of business development, effective Sept. 13.

County commissioners will discuss the position's job description prior to beginning their candidate search. That discussion will take place at their Sept. 10 meeting.

The position could be tweaked to reflect added duties. There may also be a discussion about doing away with the position.

Another option would be hiring a private firm to handle economic development in Hernando County.

But privatizing the post does not seem to be the preferred option.

"I'm open to anything, but we need to get someone on board who has been doing this for a living already and has a proven track record," Dukes said.

Dukes added that this is a demanding job and will require a person with stamina.

"That's a hard job that takes a lot of time on the road," he said.

"You really need somebody with experience to do that; somebody who's prepared to knock on doors even when the welcome mat's not there."

Whoever is hired will have to be ready to board airplanes at a moment's notice to meet clients, both domestic and foreign, he said.

County Commission Chairman Dave Russell said he welcomes the Sept. 10 discussion.

"I think that would be valuable for all of us," Russell said.

"I know the business community's rather anxious to engage as well."

Commissioner Nick Nicholson said County Administrator Len Sossamon will come up with a job description and suggest any changes.

"Obviously we need that position filled but it needs to be with the right person," he said.

County commissioners used a headhunter firm when they eventually hired Sossamon in May 2012.

The board spent about $21,000 on a company that sent out the applications, vetted the candidates and presented recommendations to county commissioners.

Wellington, Fla.-based Colin Baenziger & Associates got the nod.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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