York County soon will say goodbye to the only economic development director it has had for nearly 30 years. Mark Farris announced last week that he has taken a new job as the president and chief executive officer for the Greenville Area Development Corp.
Farris, who has been drumming up business for York County since 1987, was unanimously selected for the job in Greenville County. That entailed a nationwide search that attracted more than 300 applications.
The choice of Farris was understandable. He has done an outstanding job of courting business prospects and making sure they were a good fit for York County.
During his lengthy tenure, Farris has played a key role in bringing more than $4 billion in new capital investment to the county – an average of more than $180 million in new investment and 1,200 jobs a year. In June, he joined a contingent of local officials and Gov. Nikki Haley in hailing the decision by two companies to move operations from Charlotte to create new corporate headquarters in Fort Mill.
The two companies – Lash Group and LPL Financial – ultimately expect to create as many as 5,400 new jobs.
Farris credits the county council for giving him the latitude and support he needs to land major prospects for the county. But county officials say much of the credit must go to Farris, himself.
“Mark did all the legwork,” said Councilman Bump Roddey, who said Farris deserves all the credit for bringing jobs to the area.
Council Chairman Britt Blackwell notes that Fariss’ success also is a curse of sorts, because “everybody wants our people.” That presents a significant challenge for York County.
With Farris at the helm of economic development, the county could be certain year in and year out that he would conscientiously woo candidates for new business ventures. County officials also knew they had an expert salesman for the county in Farris.
Finding a replacement for Farris with similar skills and drive will be crucial for the county’s continued success in attracting new firms and new jobs. And we hope the search for a new director is as wide ranging and thorough as Greenville County’s was.
Farris said he looks forward to his new job, which begins Sept. 15. He said he hopes to help Greenville County diversify its corporate base and take advantage of its highly skilled work force.
We are grateful for the investment he has helped attract to York County and wish him well in his new job (as long as he is not competing with York County for business prospects).