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Highlands Economic Partnership Introduces New Staff Members

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Highlands Economic Partnership Introduces New Staff Members

A new leadership team set to take the Highlands Economic Partnership forward.

CEO and President Amy New said three new faces will join the group: Economic Development Director Rod Kirk, Investor and Community Relations Director Adam Poe and Existing Industry and Workforce Development Director Ryan Barnhart.

“This is obviously a big change in leadership, but I feel like with change comes major opportunity for us to do new things that we haven’t done in the past,” New said. “Also with this new group, it comes with many many years of experience and the expertise and strengths that we are recruiting them from.”

The trio replaces previous Economic Development Vice President Stephen Crook, Investor Relations Director David Darnell and Workforce Development and Education Director Kaitlin Salyer.

New said she attributes the recent turnover to the talents of the individuals. New said as the organization’s success grew, other groups started to recruit.

“Elevating the brand and exposure of this organization, with that always comes poaching of top talent,” New said. “This organization has known to recruit top talent and when you have top talent people are going to steal them away. All three of those people have gone on to really really great roles.”

Crook has moved to Coffee County as its Industrial Board Executive Director. Darnell now works in staffing for a nationally recognized company. Salyer operates workforce development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re very excited for them,” New said. “It is always sad to lose a member, but it’s also really great when they are enhancing their personal and professional lives.”

Kirk comes to the Highlands organization with almost two decades of experience in economic development. Kirk will be responsible for market recruitment of target industries, retention and expansion of current industries and development of site inventory across the region.

Poe, a Tennessee Tech alumni, brings over 10 years of experience in sales and entrepreneurship. He joins a campaign year while the organization works to raise over three million dollars to advance programs.

Ryan Barnhart comes from State Department of Human Services as a Program Manager. Barnhart will advocate for quality education and training programs that develop a skilled workforce.

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