The La Plata County Economic Development Alliance, a nonprofit that works with public agencies and private businesses to grow jobs and diversify the local economy, plans to hire an interim executive director while searching for a long-term leader.
Emily Meisner, former owner of The Patio Restaurant in Ignacio, will lead the nonprofit on an interim basis, said Jasper Welch, a consultant to the alliance.
Meisner has previously served on the alliance’s board and is familiar with its work, Welch said.
Meisner is expected to start this month around the same time the group’s lone employee, executive assistant Janae Blanscet, leaves the group, Welch said.
Meisner was traveling internationally and could not be reached for comment.
The alliance has been without an executive director since December, when Roger Zalneraitis resigned to take a job with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. While board members have interviewed candidates and offered the position to some qualified individuals, the hunt for the right person is ongoing, Welch said.
“There’s always pressure to hire someone as soon as you can. But there is equalizing pressure to hire the right person. ... It is not unusual for searches to take longer than expected,” he said.
The alliance receives funding from local governments and the private sector to recruit, retain and grow businesses in the county.
The board is working with The Pace Co., based in Tupelo, Mississippi, a firm that specializes in recruiting executives and economic development professionals, to find a new round of candidates, Welch said.
He expects the firm to present five candidates to the board soon. It is possible a new executive director could be placed by the end of summer, he said.
“I think the board fully understands sooner is better than later,” he said.
The alliance is working with La Plata County on plans for economic resiliency in the face of emergencies, such as floods and fires. It also is talking with the county and businesses about plans for La Posta Road (County Road 213), which has long been envisioned as an area for light industry to expand in the county.