Economic development leader to retire

Published 3:40 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tom Thompson, who has led Beaufort County’s economic development efforts for about a decade, has announced his intention to retire from the posts he holds for two local economic development organizations.

Tom Thompson

Thompson recently submitted a letter indicating his retirement intention to the Beaufort County Committee of 100, according to Tom Richter, chairman of that organization.

Thompson also announced his intention to retire from his position with the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission, the Washington Daily News has been told.

The Beaufort County Committee of 100 is the private, nonprofit arm of the Economic Development Commission. The commission operates with taxpayer funds, with Beaufort County contributing $195,031, the City of Washington allocating $91,789 and remaining municipalities in the county appropriating just under $23,000 of the commission’s $309,440 budget for the current fiscal year.

Richter said the details of Thompson’s retirement, including the date of that retirement, are being discussed by the Committee of 100 leadership.

Evelyn Roberson, chairwoman of the Economic Development Commission, on Wednesday afternoon confirmed the EDC had received a letter similar to that received by the Committee of 100.

She declined additional comment about Thompson’s letter, saying she is in the process of contacting the EDC’s board of directors to schedule a meeting to discuss Thompson’s retirement plans.

“The Committee of 100 has been very happy with his work,” Richter said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “He’s just the guy we needed when we needed him.”

Al Klemm, a Beaufort County commissioner and member of the EDC board, agreed, adding that work done by Thompson, the EDC and Committee of 100 have prepared Beaufort County well for future growth as the economy begins to recover from its current downturn.

“His contribution to Beaufort County has been great,” Klemm said. “The stage has been prepared for future economic development in Beaufort County.”

Although Thompson’s work has been praised by business and industry leaders, in recent months some economic-development activities have been criticized by some area residents and some county leaders.

They have questioned whether the county has been getting its money’s worth from industrial recruitment activities.

A telephone call seeking comment from Thompson was not returned by deadline for today’s edition.

As the face of economic development in the county, Thompson has served as chief executive officer of the Beaufort County Committee of 100 and director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission. During his tenure, Thompson has overseen the creation of two industrial parks in Beaufort County, the construction of two buildings intended to lure industries to the county and the construction of a skills center designed to provide short-term job training skills, among other activities.

Thompson has been instrumental in obtaining numerous grants that have both helped bring new businesses and industries to Beaufort County and retain and expand existing industries.

Thompson also spurred the creation of NC-20, a group of coastal counties that have organized to overcome what has been seen by some to be excessive governmental regulation.