Augusta Reflects on 1st Economic Development Director’s 4 Years
Augusta County made a strategic move a few years back in creating the position of economic development director, and it's a decision that has served them well.
Four years ago Dennis Burnett was hired as Augusta County's first ever economic development director.
"The economy was still a little soft and I think the board's thinking at that time was to get out there and sort of lay the groundwork for future growth," said Augusta Supervisor Jeff Moore.
In fact, there was hundreds of millions of dollars of growth through investment and infrastructure, all during Burnett's tenure.
"I don't think anybody could really get across how important it has been to have Dennis in that position," said Augusta Supervisor David Karaffa.
Burnett has fought for projects like Mary Baldwin's Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in Fishersville and Shamrock Farms in Verona. He says Shamrock Farms, a $50 million milk manufacturing plant that is creating 60 jobs, wasn't won by one entity.
"All the agencies and all the different community members who came together as a team to help us with that project," Burnett said.
Burnett also fought for expansions of existing Augusta County companies: McKee with a new product line creating 78 jobs, a 50,000-square-foot addition to Hollister and $10 million in updates at McQuay creating another 50 jobs.
Augusta supervisors say Burnett has done a great job for the county. They now have the task of replacing him.
"Oh boy, obviously, it's hard to make lightning strike twice," Karaffa said.
Supervisors say the good news is Burnett isn't going too far. He'll be the executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership.
The board is hoping to announce Burnett's replacement in September.
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