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"Game Changing" Leadership: The Alliance Hires New President & CEO

New President of Regional Economic Development Alliance Brings "Game Changing" Experience in Orlando, Raleigh and Phoenix to Help Hampton Roads Grow Jobs and Opportunity

Rick Weddle, Who Starts at HREDA in April, Believes the Region Has "Right Ingredients for Huge Success"

That's how the Chairman of the Board of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (the Alliance), John Padgett, describes Rick L. Weddle, who will become the next president and CEO of the organization beginning in April.

"This position is one of the most critical in our region," says Padgett. "We needed someone who understands the national and global economy, is both personable and aggressive and also a quick study. Rick Weddle is that person."

Weddle comes to Hampton Roads from Orlando where he headed the regional Economic Development Commission, which under his leadership generated 17,000 new jobs with a combined annual payroll of $800-million through the location or expansion of 150 facilities and the investment of $1.1-billion. His previous post was as president and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation in North Carolina, where he enhanced branding, increased fund raising and oversaw development of 25 new projects that factored in the rise of average salaries by nearly 50%. Earlier stops in his 36-year career in economic development included president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and of the Toledo, Ohio Regional Growth Partnership.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a native of that state, Weddle worked in city government, business and economic development there. He is the immediate past president of the International Association of Science Parks.

At the Alliance, Weddle will oversee a staff of researchers and business development experts who work closely with state and local governments and the private sector to assist international and domestic companies with investment projects, expansions and relocations. Eleven localities on the Southside and Peninsula and over 75 businesses fund the Alliance's operations.

"Rick had a great track record in Orlando and was not looking to move," says Padgett. "Yet, our search firm DHR International encouraged him to consider the Alliance opportunity. Rick became interested in the position after looking at the potential for the region and the chance for him to work with the existing community to make an immediate impact. We are thrilled to have someone of his experience, intellect and drive agree to join and lead the Alliance."

Weddle, who spent five days in Hampton Roads meeting business and government officials and gaining a feel for the economic potential in southeastern Virginia, believes the community's best days may lie ahead. "Hampton Roads is rich in human and material resources. It has all the right ingredients for huge success, and the Alliance is the ideal vehicle to guide that effort."

The Alliance is looking to Weddle to not only attract new business and industry to Hampton Roads but also grow the Alliance. "We believe there are a number of companies in the region that want to see our region prosper and are looking for the Alliance to assume a more visible leadership role," says Padgett. "Rick will be a catalyst to encourage the private sector to invest in the Alliance and to participate in a viable regional economic development strategy."

Weddle comes to his new venture with a singular focus, job creation. "A recent Gallup poll conducted in multiple countries revealed that what humans want more than anything is a good job. I go to work every day to help create them so people can put food on their table, shelter over their heads and provide for their families so they can earn their portion of the American dream. '

Weddle will have the enthusiastic backing of the Alliance leadership to make a difference in Hampton Roads. "He was the unanimous choice of our officers and board, which includes not just private sector executives but also city managers and economic development directors on both sides of the Hampton Roads harbor," says Padgett. "The hiring of Rick Weddle represents a statement of commitment by the region in the Alliance but also an acknowledgement that we can no longer do business as usual. We have a great port, a mighty military presence and attractive visitor attractions, but it's not enough. Rick's experience in Orlando in developing and launching the International Center for Advanced Manufacturing and upgrading research facilities at the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in Raleigh-Durham tells us he has the background to be a difference maker. With the enthusiastic assistance of our board, staff, funders and other partners in government, academia and business, we are confident Rick can put the Alliance and the region we all love on the right track to greater prosperity for our citizens."

To download a PDF of Rick Weddle's full bio, please CLICK HERE. 

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