Governor Mike Beebe (D) said that he is actively pursuing a replacement for former Arkansas Economic Development Commission director Maria Haley, who passed away last week after a brain aneurysm.
"I want to find the right person that can carry on in the tradition of what Maria was doing," Beebe told Talk Business. "She wasn’t afraid to compete with anybody. She created a culture that let people do what people do best."
Beebe said that in the interim he was not worried about any projects or deals potentially falling through the cracks. The AEDC staff is highly-skilled, he said, adding that his office was intimately monitoring projects in the pipeline as it has always done.
"There is an inordinate Governor’s staff involvement with that agency," said Beebe, who reminded that education and economic development have always been top priorities for his administration.
As for Haley’s replacement, Beebe said he is actively pursuing options "with all dispatch, but not in a panic mode." Because of the culture created by Haley and the talent level at AEDC, he feels no pressure to rush for a new director.
He hinted that his search would be national, if not international.
"There’s nobody I’m not going to try to recruit. Whether they live in Oshkosh or if they live in Greenbrier, I’m going to go after them. I don’t care if they’re making a million dollars," Beebe said.
"Do I have some names in the back of my head? Of course I do. Am I going to tell you who they are? Of course not. We’re working slow, but we’re working on it," he said.
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