Moret, Lumsden visit Heartland Business Park

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Stephen Moret, the president and CEO of Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) recently visited the Heartland Business Park in Keysville.

Moret — the new leader of the partnership that’s been under scrutiny since last year — met with members of the Virginia’s Heartland Regional Industrial Facility Authority as a guest speaker during its January meeting. He was joined by Past VEDP Chairman Chris Lumsden.

Heartland Authority Chairman Gary Walker said Lumsden serves as the CEO of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.

“He was kind enough to come today to introduce Stephen,” Walker said.

According to Lumsden, the VEDP has made changes in the last 18 months, one of which includes regional visits across Virginia.

“We saw a lot of interest in economic development in this region…, he said.

Lumsden said the VEDP’s board of directors made the decision to change its leadership last March.

In November, the state’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) issued a scathing report regarding the VEDP, noting a long history of operating with little oversight or accountability for the taxpayer’s dollars the partnership uses to attract new businesses, promote the state’s trade interests and attract new businesses.

JLARC warned the VEDP had left the state vulnerable to fraud by not establishing policies for how it hands out money to new or expanding businesses.

Lumsden said VEDP was fortunate to have many candidates apply for the CEO position, which was ultimately narrowed down to six finalists.

“Stephen stood out as the most qualified, most experienced person to lead the partnership,” Lumsden said.

Moret transitioned to his new role from Louisiana. He assumed his new position Jan. 1.

“I congratulate and welcome Stephen Moret as the new president and chief executive officer of the (VEDP),” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a press release last year. “I commend the VEDP Board of Directors for selecting a new CEO with Stephen’s experience, thoughtfulness and management prowess.”

Moret said he wants to see economic growth from every region. “I plan to visit your region on a regular basis,” he told authority members.

When Walker asked about the type of possible workforce improvements available for the area, Moret said, “I suspect that the more rural parts of Virginia often have a challenge with giving businesses confidence that they can deliver a fully trained workforce.”

Moret said it was important to assure businesses that are considering locating in the area that a high-quality, fully trained, flexible workforce could be quickly established.

He said a workforce training program was a possibility.