Members of the Effingham Industrial Development Authority have given CEO John Henry a positive evaluation and renewed his contract.
The personnel committee of Rose Harvey, Glenn Weston and Leon Zipperer recommended renewing Henry’s contract at its current level of compensation because of the stagnant economy.
IDA Chairman Dennis Webb praised Henry’s efforts and the efforts of his staff, project manager Ryan Moore and research and market analyst Erin Rahn.
“The job of an industrial recruiter, such as John Henry, has become much more difficult with the current economic climate,” Webb said. “There are a lot of companies that are positioning themselves for expansion in a better economy. They go through the process of site selection, but never announce. However, we have seen a recent increase in interest Effingham that appears to be more concrete.”
Prospects come from a variety of sources, and the IDA staff is currently working on more than a half-dozen potential industrial clients. Currently, the IDA staff is working on a list of prospects that represent more than 6,000 jobs and over $2 billion in investment.
Prospects are guided to places such as Effingham by the state, independent site selectors, commercial real estate brokers, industrial development companies and sometimes from the companies themselves, Webb said.
“John’s job is to assess the viability of a project in Effingham County,” he said. “Not all projects fit here, and not all projects are viable anywhere.”
If a prospect is judged to have potential, usually a request for information is handled.
“This can be as simple as a couple of paragraphs, or can be many pages long,” Webb said, “and at this stage you often know very little about the company or its product. John’s job is to research the company and assess the value of a company to Effingham and determine if we have a site that will work for the company.”
An interested company could conduct several site visits and there could be several visits to its existing operations.
“John’s ability to research and correctly assess a project’s viability is his most important skill,” Webb said, “because almost every project requires a financial input from the IDA, which is, of course, taxpayer dollars. John must also direct Ryan and Erin to answer questions about projects. Ryan’s expertise is in the financial side of a project, and Erin has great skill in generating maps with project footprints, with infrastructure options, with clarity that is appreciated by the prospective company.”
If Effingham is chosen as the site for a prospect, Henry will present a memorandum of understanding to the IDA, which leads to a contract with the company.
“The time frame can be as quick as a few months or as slow as several years,” Webb said.
Henry’s annual compensation is $94,500, with a vehicle, two weeks of vacation, health insurance and retirement contributions at 4 percent of his annual salary.