As SMEDA's executive director, Sutherland is responsible for leading the organization's efforts to increase business activity throughout its six-county Bootheel service area. Sutherland will begin his assignment Oct. 1.
"I'm really excited about it. I'm a native of Southeast Missouri, have a career in economic development that spans 34 years, and look forward to working with the SMEDA's board of directors and helping the Bootheel of Missouri realize its true economic potential," Sutherland said. "I have been involved in economic development at the state, regional and local levels and I'm looking forward to the opportunity and to meeting the challenges we have from a economic development standpoint."
Gordon Waller, SMEDA's chairman, said while the search for the right candidate took longer than expected, the SMEDA board of directors is very optimistic about Sutherland's ability to handle an extensive agenda of development activities.
"This job requires managing projects that seek out new businesses for the region, increase business-to-business activity within the region, and build unity among the governments and businesses of the Bootheel," Waller said. "We feel Buz Sutherland has the experience, knowledge and regional relationships to do a fine job."
Sutherland said SMEDA and its board are dedicated and work hard.
"With the kind of commitment they're showing we're going to get the job done," he said.
Currently director of the Small Business Development Center at Southeast Missouri State University, Sutherland spent nearly 10 years in a variety of assignments within the Missouri Department of Economic Development in Jefferson City during the 1970s and 1980s, owned Sutherland Oil Company in Charleston from 1982 to 1989, and assumed his current position in 1990.
Sutherland has received a number of certifications from economic development and academic organizations and serves on several civic organization boards.
SMEDA, formed in 2004, is a public-private partnership of more than 50 city and county governments, private businesses such as banks and utilities, and interested agencies, working to approach development of the Bootheel from a regional perspective. A three-year strategic plan has been developed and funded by its member businesses. Office space and support is being provided by the University of Missouri Delta Center in Portageville.
"We will operate under the premise that what's good for any one city or county in our region is good for all of us, and that we're dependent upon each other for workforce and other resources," Waller said. "With Buz Sutherland coordinating our actions, we want to achieve measurable growth in our regional economy."
An initial project for Sutherland will be promotion of the upcoming SMEDA Fall Conference planned for Oct. 27 in the University of Missouri-Columbia Delta Center's Rone Hall, southeast of Portageville on route TT, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The seminar, which is open to all area businesses and organizations, will focus on building the region's small business core and on interaction among existing businesses to increase volume and productivity.
Details will be available from Ann Matthews at the Delta Center, 573-379
-5431, before Oct. 1 or from Sutherland at the same number afterward.