Longtime Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President Jim Devine has declared his retirement, effective May 15.
“Lee’s Summit has been a wonderful professional and personal opportunity for me,” Devine said. “See the community grow and mature has been a pleasure and I am glad to play a small part in its long-term prosperity.”
Brad Cox, chairman of the board for the LSEDC, publicized the retirement March 14.
Devine came to Lee’s Summit in 1999 from Glendale, Ariz.
“We wish him the best, he’s done a good for us since he came in 1999,” Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads said. “The gentleman knew economic development.”
An interim director has already been named to replace Devine.
Steve Cohen, CEO of Labor Management Advisory Group, will take the helm while a national search is done.
Cohen is a 20-year Lee’s Summit now residing in Lone Jack. He has kids and grandkids living in Lee’s Summit as well.
“I’m thrilled at the prospect of filling in during the interim and to be involved in helping to fill this position,” Cohen said by phone Friday afternoon. “I think there will be a tremendous amount of interest in this position.”
Previously a consultant for the city of Lee’s Summit, Cohen’s expertise in this arena made him a automatic choice, said Cox.
“Steve’s group, this is what they do – manage transitions,” Cox said. “He’s served in the interim in a great number of fields. He understands the art of serving in the interim. He is heading up the national search to find Jim’s replacement.”
Cox said the business of economic development, including current initiatives, will move forward during the transition.
“EDC’s role will be very transparent to everybody involved,” he said. “With the crossroads Lee’s Summit is at…and a new set of council members to work with and a new director for the organization, we see this as a huge opportunity to retool the organization, reestablish the strength and the positive support we have from a huge number of investors in this town as well as with the city and the council.”
One of the biggest topics in this city budget season has been the future of the bed tax and the public service agreement with the EDC, including possible changes in funding.
“The board will actually be doing more of that than I will,” Cohen said. “A big part that will occupy my time is building relationships with people that I don’t know and renewing relationships with those I do know to gather a wide variety of stakeholders to ask ‘What do you see as important to the next EDC president?’”
Cohen said the search will be narrowed with some specifics in mind.
“We need a great communicator, a bridge builder,” he said. “But the staff and board have needs and priorities, so a big part of what I will be doing is listening.”
Cox said Devine’s development mark will be seen for years to come in Lee’s Summit.
“Jim’s run came during the most explosive growth this community has ever experienced,” he said. “He’s reached the point in his life where he can look back with a lot of pride and a lot of satisfaction at what he’s accomplished.”
Devine is the third LSEDC president since its formation in 1986.
“I am truly grateful to the many LSEDC investors, volunteer leaders, professional staff and city staff who have shown how public and private partnerships work together on a shared vision,” Devine said.
In 2010, the Missouri Economic Development named Devine the Professional Economic Developer of the Year.