Northampton County announced this week that it has hired Kris Tucker as director of economic and community development. He will be filling the controversial role previously held by Charles McSwain. There had been some push from the community, mainly from citizen activist Andy Teeling, to eschew the Economic Developer position in favor of a dedicated Public Relations role. Feeling the second time is the charm, Katy Nunez brings in Tucker who, according to the county, has a wealth of private sector experience in community and economic development, project management, public policy, land use, eco-tourism, research and finance. Tucker holds a Master’s Degree in Resource Administration and Management and a Bachelor of Environmental Science/Public Affairs and Policy Degree from the University of New Hampshire.
Tucker’s previous role was as executive director of economic development for Vista Equities, headquartered in Las Vegas, which raises red flags in its own right. Vista has reputation for aggressively working unusual clauses into its contracts with private equity fund investors; this tactic may provide more flexibility in leveraged buyouts, yet it may also carry much more risk for investors. In other words, investors see their entire capital tied up in one investment, potentially hurting returns and denying them the benefits of future diversification.
From a Reuters report on Visa, Kelly DePonte the managing director of Probitas Partners stated, “To me, that is taking an awful lot of risk. This would be an area of concern that I would raise for the limited partner to look at.” Given the aggressive, risk taking nature of Vista, just what form economic development Tucker has planned for Northampton, and just how that will play into Nunez’s vision for this County, will be something worth keeping an eye on.
Mr. Tucker has not been shy about throwing his hat into the ring. Before landing the job here, he has recently applied for the City Manager job in Marathon Florida, the City Economic Vitality Director in Flagstaff, Arizona, as well as for the Santa Rosa Florida County administrator.