The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors voted Friday (July 19) to offer the executive director position to Daniel Mann of Parsons, Kan. Board Chairman Dean Gibson said Parsons could be on the job by late August.
The FCRA executive director position was left vacant when the board voted Feb. 21 that Ivy Owen was no longer able to fulfill his responsibilities as executive director due to health issues, and because of that he would no longer be employed by FCRA.
Mann is the former chief executive officer of Great Plains Development Authority and has 20 years’ experience in economic development, during which he “successfully recruited manufacturing, warehouse/distribution, professional services and energy companies (that) led to the creation of over 5,000 new jobs with a total of over $1.6 billion in new investment,” a media statement on Gann said. Great Plains is a quasi-municipality commissioned by the Pentagon to transfer and redevelop the former Kansas Army Ammunition plant in southeast Kansas.
Prior to his stint at Great Plains, Mann developed and led a six-county bi-state regional partnership for eastern Iowa and western Illinois in the Quad Cities region. He also worked with Rock Island Arsenal in that area.
The list of almost 90 applications was narrowed to three by July 10. Those three – Mann, Larry Calhoun of Conroe, Texas, and Lorie Robertson of Lavaca – were interviewed in the following days.
Gibson said Mann’s experience is what led him to stand out among the others.
“He’s been involved in the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) in the past. We interviewed a lot of people who have known him from the past. … The people speak really highly of him, even the organizations where he left. … They just couldn’t say enough good things about him,” Gibson said.
Mann, a graduate of Northeaster State University in Tahlequah, Okla., and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, was named 2007 Oklahoma Economic Development Professional of the Year by the Northeast Oklahoma Economic Development Association, press materials said. He also received an “ACE” award from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives for his economic development programs.
Mann’s other experience includes work with the Tulsa Metro Chamber, where he held multiple positions including manager of small and minority owned business, international business development manager, executive director of the Tulsa area partnership and senior project manager for business attraction.
“He has been involved in organizations like this. He has administrative skills that are very highly thought of. He’s got a lot of experience in areas such as legislation that has helped him in other, especially with the BRAC organization in Parson, Kan.,” Gibson said. “They had a lot of complications we haven’t had to deal with, and he didn’t back down from any of it. … He’s not a quitter. And people like him. … I think he’s just a great fit.”
The board noted that filling the position was a difficult decision and that the final decision came down to Mann and Robertson. Robertson is the director of marketing for FCRA, a position she has held since December 2013. Prior to that she worked for Right Mind Advertising, working with FCRA to market the Chaffee Crossing area.
Gibson said it was not certain when Mann would take over the position, but he has indicated that if offered the position, he will accept.
“He has a date in mind late August. We’re hoping maybe it can happen a little before then,” Gipson said.
Owen was executive director for more than 11 years, but had not been in the FCRA office since Nov. 21, 2018. He was still officially the executive director until Feb. 21 and did receive pay until that time, although he did not receive full pay, said FCRA Janet Gabrey, director of finance and temporary office manager. Owen recently filed a wrongful termination claim against FCRA. The board agreed to allow its attorney to enter into mediation with Owen’s attorney regarding the claim following an executive session at the board’s regular meeting June 20.