Brian K. Brown, Roanoke resident and most recently employed as a market executive for real estate developers Countryside Service Company of Staunton, is the new executive director for the Industrial Development Authority of Halifax County.

Acting on a motion offered by board member Nancy Pool, board members present at Friday’s meeting voted unanimously to offer the position to Brown at its meeting on Friday.

Brown, who will earn a salary of $105,000 a year, will assume the position of executive director on Sept. 1 and replaces Matt Leonard, who departed the IDA on Nov. 1, 2018.

Deputy director Kristy Johnson has served as interim director since then.

Brown served for over seven years as economic development administrator for the City of Buena Vista and before that he served as economic development administrator for the City of Roanoke.

He also has private sector experience from his employment as marketing coordinator and business development representative with Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern, an engineering firm in Roanoke.

One of his first tasks will be forming a workforce development strategy in conjunction with IDA board members and the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, Brown said on Friday.

Halifax County has a lot to offer, Brown pointed out.

“You have a lot of great bones in place in terms of the economy, including the Higher Ed Center, VIR, and many different pieces in place with the workforce development board,” said Brown.

“The Henrietta Lacks project can be an unbelievable game changer,” Brown noted, but he added that a first step is looking at what can be done for workforce development to prepare it for the next set of jobs that come to Halifax County.

“Workforce is always a challenge, to have people trained in the proper areas to make sure they’re prepared for the new jobs coming here,” said Brown.

“I’m very familiar with what’s going on with the Chamber strategy, in terms of setting up the needs for our community, and I look forward to working with them as well as with other members of the (IDA) board to create a full economic development strategy.

Brown and wife, Vicky, a Botetourt County school teacher, have two children, Alec, 23, and Jessica, 18.

“Assisted by the Berkley Group, we had a strong pool of candidates, and Mr. Brown impressed both the search committee and the whole board with his experience, his understanding of Halifax County, and his approach to economic development and community building,” said IDA Chair Robert Bates.

“I also want to express my and the entire board’s sincere thanks, to Kristy Johnson for her leadership and guidance through this transition.

“She has done a great job, and we are most grateful.”

Dr. Betty Adams, executive director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and a member of the search committee that selected Brown, thanked the IDA board for allowing the SVHEC to have a voice in “what was a very professional and thorough process that resulted in an outstanding outcome.”

“The SVHEC looks forward to working more closely with Brian and the IDA board in the future,” said Adams.

From Gazette Virginian