By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
Since the first of the year the top two executives with the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance has left the organization, allowing for the restructuring of the group.
Executive director Jeb Conrad resigned in January and Nora Shaykhutdinov stepped down as the Chief Operating Officer of the Alliance last week.
The Alliance was formed in 2007 and started operations in 2009 with funding from the private sector, Kokomo and Howard County tax dollars.
GKEDA consists of eight local groups to oversee economic development efforts in Kokomo and Howard County. The groups include Inventrek, Kokomo-Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Kokomo-Howard County Development Corp., Urban Enterprise Association, Kokomo Downtown Association, Howard County, Kokomo and the Kokomo/Howard County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Laura Sheets, chairman of the Alliance board, said the day to day operations of the Alliance are continuing through the experienced employees with the various agencies under the Alliance’s umbrella.
An interim executive director to serve for the next six months could be named this week, she said.
A search is underway to find a CEO and the Alliance is broadening the search, she said.
Sheets said Shaykhutdinov’s decision to leave came as something of a surprise.
“We wish we already had Jeb’s replacement,” she said. “The most important thing that the board has to do in hire the right CEO.”
Sheets said she was unsure if the two positions would be combined in the future.
“This is a great opportunity,” she said. “We are evaluating the best way to fulfill the mission of the organization.”
Mike Stegall, CEO of Community First Bank and one of the original board members of the Alliance, said the two top officers leaving the Alliance didn’t look particularly good.
“When the top person is gone, you hope the number two person will be put in that role,” he said. “Maybe it was a little more than she wanted to undertake.”
Stegall said once a CEO is hired by the Alliance, it will be up to that person to put the team back together. He said the organization has not been aligned as it should be.
The hope was that Conrad would have been free to work on economic development issues and that Shaykhutdinov would oversee the day to day operations, he said.
“A priority has to be getting the number one person,” Stegall said. “In a prudent way we need to find the right person as quickly as we can.”
Stegall said its the perfect time to restructure the Alliance and that could be combining the two positions.
“We would want some input from the new CEO on what their thoughts are on what the organization structure should be,” he said.
Stegall said when the Alliance was first formed, there was a representative from each organization on the board, but that changed in recent years.
He was not concerned about the continuing day-to-day operations of the Alliance until a new CEO is hired.
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