Photo of Blair Jeffress new operations managerA new face has joined the team of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority

Blair Jeffress is the organization’s new operations manager. IDA interim executive director Mike Davidson introduced Jeffress to the board at its Friday morning meeting.

“She’s been a very positive asset to our organization so far and we look forward to that continuing,” Davidson said.

Jeffress began her new role with the Halifax County IDA on July 1. The role of operations manager is a new position for the IDA. While her role is new, the Halifax County landscape is well known to Jeffress, who is a Scottsburg native and resident.

“Our search led us to our own backyard,” Davidson commented in a news release on Jeffress’ hire, adding, “Blair cares deeply for her community and the development of the economy.”

Jeffress’ job duties as IDA operations manager include financial and grant management, coordinating prospect events, acting as Enterprise Zone administrator, and general overseeing of the organization’s day-to-day operations.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Jeffress expressed. “I’ve always been a person who loves to give back to the community and being a part of the IDA goes along with that vision.”

The Halifax County native added she was intrigued by the prospect of being part of an organization that drives economic development in her home county.

“I would love to contribute to more companies, more jobs coming to Halifax County,” Jeffress commented. “I would also love to help the IDA increase the quality of life for residents and for Halifax County.”

Jeffress’ background lends itself well to the position of operations manager for the IDA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia State University and a master’s degree also in accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also served as finance director for her church in Richmond. Her peers describe her as a “mentor and leader,” as stated in the news release announcing her hire. Jeffress shared an example of her mentoring experience.

“Last year, I hosted a vision party for women to help them create a vision board for 2021. I became a mentor for a lot of the women to stay positive and plan out their future and be strong women,” Jeffress said.

Speaking of the future, it is looking brighter for the Halifax County IDA with the recent hire of Jeffress and finalizing of its search for a candidate for the position of executive director. Davidson provided an update on that search for the board at Friday’s meeting.

The IDA executive director search committee recently interviewed four candidates for the executive director position and decided to move forward with only one of those candidates, Davidson shared.

Members of the executive director search committee are IDA board chairman Robert Bates and board treasurer Rick Harrell, Halifax County administrator Scott Simpson and Garland Ricketts, vice-chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors.

The IDA board decided at Friday’s meeting it would hold a meeting the week of Aug. 2 to discuss plans to proceed with filling the executive director position. The Greensboro, North Carolina-based consulting firm Jorgenson Consulting conducted a nationwide search for candidates for the IDA’s executive director position.

“We’re still in the process of doing that evaluation. It will take a couple more weeks to continue negotiations with the top ranked candidate and see if there are any more candidates out there we would like to interview,” Davidson explained.

In addition to filling the executive director position, the Halifax County IDA also is tasked with filling a facilities manager position to round out its staff. Davidson said on Friday the IDA has not yet found the right candidate for that position and is still advertising for it.

Davidson has served as interim executive director of the Halifax County IDA and its only official staff member since November 2020, following the late October termination of executive director Brian Brown.

Former IDA interim executive director Kristy Johnson also stepped in to assist with the organization’s operations following the fall departure of the IDA’s deputy director Tracy Mallard and two other staff members.

From The Gazette Virginian