State economic development official Fred Kenney to replace Robin Scheu as head of ACEDC
MIDDLEBURY — Most employers accept the fact that new hires will face a learning curve.
Fortunately, it will be more of a straight line than a curve for ç, who next month will officially begin his tenure as new executive director of the Addison County Economic Development Corporation, or ACEDC.
Kenney joins the ACEDC with 16 years of experience administering Vermont Economic Progress Council programs that each year funnel millions of dollars in tax incentives to qualifying businesses seeking to grow in the Green Mountain State.
“I look forward to the opportunity to lead economic development in Addison County,” Kenney said of his career transition during an interview at the ACEDC offices in Middlebury on Thursday. “It’s a great chance to help grow the county’s businesses and create new opportunities for folks in Addison County.”
Kenney has enjoyed promoting economic development at the statewide level on multiple fronts. Prior to his role with VEPC, he served (1994 to 2001) as Vermont coordinator for business, community and economic development, housing and transportation issues for U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
With VEPC, Kenney has been largely involved with the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive program and Tax Increment Financing programs.
The Employment Growth Incentive program provides a cash payment — based on the projected revenue return generated to the state by prospective qualifying job and payroll creation and capital investments — to businesses that then meet performance requirements.
Tax Increment Financing gives qualifying communities the ability to capture and use most of the increased local property tax revenues from new development in a specific geographic area to pay back investments on the infrastructure (such as water and sewer connections) to help make that new development possible.
But Kenney is now ready to advocate for business growth at a more regional level — with the ACEDC.
Simply put, the ACEDC’s mission is to help businesses, in all stages of growth, retain and create good-paying jobs in Addison County.
“It was the opportunity to continue working in economic development in Vermont, but with a different focus,” Kenney said. “This is a more hands-on, feet-on-the-ground role, dealing face to face with businesses. My position with the state has been wonderful. I’ve learned a lot and worked with a lot of different companies … But this will be more direct contact with employers from the region.”
In his new job, Kenney will interact with area entrepreneurs, bankers, developers and other players in Addison County’s economic development arena. Like his soon-to-be predecessor, Robin Scheu, Kenney will help people jump through logistical, financial and permitting hoops en route to growing their businesses in the county.
Since Kenney has learned the ins and outs of how VEPC’s programs work, he’s in a good position to tell Addison County business people where they can get help if he is unable to accommodate them directly through ACEDC resources.
“One of the strengths that I have is I have experience at both federal and state levels, so I know about all the programs,” he said. “I don’t know about all of them in-depth, but I have a good sense of where to refer people and what resources can be brought to the table for a particular project or need.”
Having a smaller territory to cover will allow Kenney to become more familiar with the people he will be serving.
“At this level, it’s going to be about building relationships and getting out there,” Kenney said.
He vowed to meet with the business community to understand its needs and aspirations, as well as get a sense of any roadblocks that might be standing in the way of increased prosperity. Scheu has already been getting Kenney acquainted with many of the local people with whom he will interact.
Kenney starts his new job Nov. 27. Scheu will be available through December to assist him in the early going. Kenney will remain as executive director of VEPC until Nov. 25.
Scheu believes the ACEDC has found a perfect match in Kenney.
“I am so excited that Fred took this job,” said Scheu, who is retiring but will continue to represent Middlebury in the Vermont House. “I’ve run this organization for nine years. It’s my baby. You want to hand it off to someone you feel good about. I couldn’t feel better about this. I have known Fred as long as I’ve been in this job. It’s going to benefit everyone in Addison County, which I’m thrilled about.”
Chris Knapp, chairman of the ACEDC board, said 22 people applied for the executive director position. Like Scheu, he was ecstatic to see Kenney among the applicants.
“The ACEDC hired one of the most experienced and strongest economic directors in the state of Vermont,” Knapp said. “Fred will continue to build on Robin’s great work and the region’s assets to find more and better ways to grow our rural economy. The board believes that Fred’s experience with multiple constituencies around the state will help broaden economic development in Addison County in ways that will benefit us all.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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