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Perth Amboy’s Van Eckert Accepts Flagler’s Offer To Be Economic Development CEO

| January 30, 2012

Helga van Eckert earlier this month, as she was being interviewed by members of the county's jobs council. Sally Sherman, the county's deputy administrator, is behind her, and Alan Peterson, a county commissioner, is to her right. Sherman and Peterson don't serve on the jobs council. (© FlaglerLive)

Helga Van Eckert has accepted Flagler County’s government’s offer to become its latest economic development CEO. She will start in late February with a salary of close to $110,000 a year.

Barbara Revels, who chairs the county’s jobs council responsible for setting Flagler’s economic development direction—and hiring van Eckert—said the first priority for the new director will be to get “a more intensive tour of the county than she’s already had, and basically getting out and about, introducing herself to the community.”

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Van Eckert’s acceptance will be made official at the next meeting of the county’s jobs council, on Tuesday, at 1 p.m., at the Government Services Building in Bunnell, though she won;t attend her first meeting of the council until March.

Van Eckert has been the director of the Perth Amboy, N.J., redevelopment agency since 2000. She’d been a project manager at an environmental engineering firm before that. Revels said van Eckert told Wilda Diaz, the mayor of Perth Amboy, that she’d accepted the offer, and was making arrangements to move.

The county’s newly created Department of Economic Opportunity is currently headed by Greg Rawls, as department manager. Rawls was the executive director of Enterprise Flagler, the public-private partnership that served as the county’s economic development arm from 2000 until its dissolution last summer. That group was led by volunteer business members serving on its board, alongside representatives from the county, Flagler cities and the school board. Palm Coast and the county were funding the majority of Enterprise Flagler’s roughly $300,000 budget, but political gamesmanship, dissatisfaction with Enterprise Flagler’s job-creation record, and a running rivalry between Palm Coast and the county led to Enterprise Flagler’s disbanding.

Palm Coast is now leading its own economic development efforts through its Businesses Assistance Center, which helps mostly home-based businesses and small businesses navigate the risks of entrepreneurship, with some successes. The county is staking its economic development future on its recreated economic development department and its nine-member volunteer jobs council, with a $410,000 annual budget.

Greg Rawls (© FlaglerLive)

Rawls’s future with the county is uncertain. “I guess that’s a question for van Eckert and the new board,” Rawls said. “I’m here for the transition.” He added, “I’d love to stay on. If not, I understand.”

As department manager, Rawls is paid a $67,500 annual salary. Van Eckert is expected to hire some staff, but her budget is limited. It’s unlikely that she will have more than one or two additional employees.

When the jobs council meets on Tuesday, it will set a date for a retreat with van Eckert, where the group will set expectations for its new director. The council will then go on a field trip, to Daytona State College’s Advanced Technical College in Daytona Beach. The council will also be visiting the University of Central Florida’s business incubator in Daytona Beach.

8 Responses for “Perth Amboy’s Van Eckert Accepts Flagler’s Offer To Be Economic Development CEO”

  1. says:

    different faces and SOS

  2. Are you kidding mr says:

    I’m a long time Perth Amboy resident–trust me when I say, “Oh Barbara, What a mistake you’ve made”

  3. Lost says:

    Let me get this straight, the head of the state of Florida economic department makes $125,000 a year to run the entire state, and we are going to pay her $110,000 to run Flagler county department????

    Have you seen Perth armpit? She is a CRA manager with no florida experience and paying her $110,000?

    Is it true the county is paying her moving expenses too, $20,000.

    They are going to blow the budget just on her.

  4. Rain says:

    Sounds like another waste a money, so what else is new…..this county is very depressing. She should have no trouble finding a home, there are many vacant homes in this county, wonder why?

  5. PJ says:

    Nothing but naysayers the buch of you.

    You had your chance to speak up before she was hired.

    Oh so were paying too much not really it’s about time Florida shoud start catching up with the rest of the county and start paying up.

    You get what you pay for so give her a chance.

    It’s like you are hoping for failure instead of hoping for help!

  6. What are we doing? says:

    Naysayers yes,

    I just don’t know what happen. Expectations were so high for this new board. They were going to hire a CEO someone that would be effective as soon as they arrived. Someone from a community that palm coast wanted to become. There are a lot of thriving communities in this country to pick from, but they are not in New Jersey.

    And they whole pay thing. What was the board thinking? Where was Melissa and Allen looking out for the tax payers. The Eoc board doesn’t know what they are doing but I expected Melissa to object.

    Hegla has no Florida experience, limited economic development experience, and she comes in at the highest possible wage. Didnt Allen and Melissa just a few months ago object to Peggy’s small pay increase. Peggy with proven results was told no.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    Palm Coast is heading the less expensive and more effective way so lets sing along…this new Palm Coast tune:

  8. palmcoaster says:

    Also when it comes to taxpayers funds County or TDC ( 4 or 6% bed tax) we better be the watch dog as these Flagler County Commissioners sprinkle our hard earned taxes in a very frivolous way. In Volusia County some down to earth commissioners started some Advertising Authority counterpart of (TDC in Flagler) expenditures audits and found out first that the new big honcho Carni was paid 101,000 compensation in six months only and also had very suspicious charged expenses!
    Maybe we should use the magnifying glass in Flagler County as well.

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