Tony Beasley has shifted from Garner’s economic development director to director of inspections, a hat change the town and Beasley said maximizes Beasley’s capabilities.
Town officials also said the transition will not hinder economic development efforts at a critical juncture; Beasley had been spearheading recruitment of tech companies to the town’s 100-acre site vacated by ConAgra.
“As much as I love economic development, and marketing and selling Garner, I also looked at it in long term interests for Garner: Which is easier for the town to find?” Beasley said. “It’s a lot easier to fill the economic development role than the inspections role.”
Beasley replaced retiring and inspections director Sandy Teal on Sept. 1 in a move announced by the town Sept. 10. Beasley joined the town as a senior building inspector in 2008. He is one of about 160 building inspectors in the state with Level III certifications in all five categories; Teal had been another. About a year after the town hired him he was promoted to economic development director.
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This latest move also represents a promotion for Beasley, which he acknowledged added appeal. His position at the head of the town’s fourth largest department by manpower (after police, public works and parks and recreation) comes with a requirement of technical expertise and an increase in salary from $77,105 to to $87,006.
Given the town’s expected continued growth, guiding an efficient and effective inspections process carries particular weight.
“Building inspections are going to be needed. If we’re going to grow at the rate we’re projected, they’re going to be needed,” Councilman Gra Singleton said.
In that role Beasley had played a key role quarterbacking the efforts to bring massive investment and high-paying jobs to the former ConAgra site. But town leaders say the infrastructure for those efforts remains in place, that the county has agreed to help and that Beasley himself will be available to continue relationships he had developed.
“Good news is, Tony’s still on our staff. He still has his Rolodex, he’s a guy willing to put in a lot of hours if we need him to,” town manager Hardin Watkins said.
Filling Beasley’s shoes
Since the now-vacant position of economic development director falls directly under the new second assistant town manager in the town’s management restructuring, the position won’t likely be filled before the second half of October to allow the new boss to have a say in the hiring. Beasley and Watkins said in the short term, the town would be limited in ability to travel to market the town.
“It is going to be a bit more reactive than proactive,” Watkins said. “Rodney and I will be able to react.”
Beasley said assistant town manager Rodney Dickerson would take point on economic development issues, with Watkins and himself backing him up. He said he’d be forwarding any contacts reaching out to Dickerson.
Meanwhile, existing resources – both local and regional – remain in place to continue marketing the industrial site vacated after the ConAgra factory exploded in 2009. The town hopes for multiple high-tech tenants to invest many tens of millions of dollars into a research campus that expands the tax base and creates hundreds of high-paying jobs.
Watkins and other leaders pointed out that the three-member Garner Economic Development Corporation, which is fixated on marketing the site, remains. GEDC president Bruce Andrews lends expertise and stability; he’s a retired state Commerce Department official with experience in economic development.
In addition, Wake County’s economic development arm will help as well.
“Wake County Economic Development has agreed to dedicate some extra time to Garner to help make sure we don’t miss any opportunities,” Beasley said.
Watkins added that even before Beasley’s move, the county and other organizations like the Research Triangle Regional Partnership had always been at the forefront of proactive marketing outside of the area, working on behalf of the entire region.
“They’re doing the proactive stuff. That’s what they’re set up to do. When we do proactive work, we’re supplementing them,” Watkins said of the county.