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Pitt County hires executive director of development commission


Scott Darnell, the new executive director of the Pitt County Development Commission, attended the Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday.


By Karen Eckert
Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The new executive director of the Pitt County Development Commission expressed excitement about working with local entities at Monday night's Pitt County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Scott Darnell was hired on Monday and will be filling the position vacated by Wanda Yuhas, who retired in April after serving in that capacity for more than a decade, according to a Pitt County news release.

The development commission hired Darnell at its 4 p.m. meeting, upon recommendation of the PCDC's hiring committee, said Commissioner Chris Nunnally, District 3, who serves as the commissioner's liaison to the development commission.

Darnell has been serving most recently as the executive director for the Economic Development Reuse Organization for the U.S. Department of Energy. This position covered five county areas in Western Kentucky, as well as Southern Illinois, according to the news release.

He was chosen from an applicant pool of nearly two dozen individuals.

"Without exception on that (hiring) committee, everyone was very impressed with Scott and his diversity of experience and thought that he would be a really strong leader stepping into this role and moving the commission forward," Nunnally said.

Nunnally said that he was excited that Darnell was able to speak to the Board of Commissioners at their Monday night meeting.

Darnell, who had flown in to Pitt County to attend the meeting, referring to the blue of the North Carolina sky to describe the work of economic development.

"I think the color aspect of economic development ... is to make a county the best it can be and all citizens prosper," he said. "The 'black and white' aspect is the management, the organization, the legal structures. They don't create jobs. They don't create opportunities. They give us the ability to use the resources in the public and private sector to effect change, to effect opportunity and I like to keep those two separate.

"Somebody pointed out to me recently (that) there's a difference between management and leadership. Management is managing the organizations. Leadership is knowing what's the best thing for this community moving forward. That's why I'm here today," Darnell said.

Darnell said he did a lot of homework on Pitt County during the process of applying for the job.

"I know a lot about your economy," Darnell said. "There's a lot of tremendous things and there are things we have to work on. ... It's (about) continuous improvement.

Randy Walters, chairman of the Pitt County Development Commission, said in the news release that Darnell was selected unanimously "for his multi-county economic development experience as well as public and private economic development experience. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University and the University of West Georgia. He has worked for several economic development groups in several southern states. His wife is an ECU graduate."

Darnell has held multiple leadership positions including president/CEO for Paducah Economic Development in Paducah, Ky., as well as the Burke Partnership for Economic Development in Morganton, N.C. In these roles, Darnell worked directly with local governments, boards, and private sector partners to accelerate economic development opportunities, the release said.

On Monday night, Walters said that in addition to Darnell's credentials and experience, he was especially impressed with Darnell's enthusiasm for Pitt County as a place to live and his desire to have his 11-year-old daughter grow up here.

An official start date has yet to be determined, according to the news release.

However, Darnell said at Monday night's meeting that his family hopes to relocate to the area as soon as possible.

The Pitt County Development Commission recruits new industry and supports existing industry in Pitt County. Its mission is to promote job growth, diversify the County’s economy, and expand the local tax base. To help fulfill its mission, the commission works closely with many partners including the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, local municipalities and chambers of commerce, East Carolina University, Pitt Community College and Vidant Health. To learn more about the Pitt County Development Commission and their work to expand industry in Pitt County, visit www.LocateInCarolina.com.