SARASOTA — Mark Huey will step down as president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, according to a statement released Dec. 5.
The board has identified a transition team to carry forward the EDC’s mission during the search process and to work closely on the formation and charge of the search committee, according to the press release.
“We are grateful for Mark’s leadership over the past nearly nine years he has served the mission of the EDC,” says EDC Board Chair Art Lambert in the statement.
Huey's tenure included initiatives such as the University of Florida Innovation Station, the release states. The EDC has also grown its private investment funds during his tenure, the statement adds.
“Leading such a vibrant organization that has contributed so much to our county’s business growth has been an honor for me,” Huey says in the statement. “I look forward to taking my experiences to a new opportunity and will enthusiastically cheer on the EDC team as it continues to grow and diversify our economy.”
Huey was named top executive of the EDC, a private, nonprofit corporation leading the community’s economic development strategy, in 2010, after seven years as the economic and urban development administrator for the City of Tampa. Prior to his role with Tampa, Huey was the COO at Metropolitan Ministries and CFO for the Tampa Housing Authority.
While the Sarasota EDC had several successes under Huey's leadership, his tenure was also marked by a few controversies. One, early on his tenure, several companies received incentives and subsidies prior to reaching the predetermined amount of jobs — a policy that has since been changed to rely on performance-based incentives. More recently, some Sarasota County commissioners, in public meetings, questioned Huey on the EDC's return on county funds, in terms of lasting, high-paid jobs through the agency's efforts.
Also, in spring 2016, Huey and the EDC came under scrutiny from the contracting and roofing community for a proposal that, in planning, would have provided $1.08 million in subsidies and incentives for Asheville, N.C-based North American Roofing Co. to move to Sarasota. Opponents, at a county commissioners meeting, said giving an already-large company taxpayer funds to move, and then compete, with area roofing companies, would be unfair. (The company posted $165 million in revenue in 2017.)
Huey and other supporters of the company countered the jobs would have been corporate, for the most part, and North American Roofing would only target national work, not local, competitive bids. Sarasota County Commissioners eventually rejected the proposal, and North American Roofing Co. moved to Tampa. It received at least $1.2 million in jobs performance-based incentives from Florida, Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa to relocate.