SOURCE: San Diego Regional EDC

San Diego Regional EDC

January 05, 2011 15:42 ET

San Diego Regional EDC's CEO Announces Plans to Retire June 30, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - January 5, 2011) - EDC's President and CEO Julie Meier Wright today announced plans to retire from the company as of June 30, 2011, though she will continue with the company under a consulting agreement for the balance of the year.

EDC Chairman Debbie Reed, Executive Vice President of Sempra Energy, noted that the Executive Committee has mapped out a succession plan that will include a national search for a new CEO under a search committee currently being established. EDC Board and Executive Committee member Stath Karras, Executive Managing Director of Cushman-Wakefield, will chair the committee.

"Julie has done a spectacular job leading what is considered one of the best economic development organizations in the country," said Reed. "Our goal now is to ensure a smooth transition, hiring a new CEO that will take EDC to even greater levels, focusing on our goals of job growth and competitiveness."

Wright joined EDC in August 1997, and transformed the company from one highly dependent on a single public contract to a private-sector-driven organization with a strong board of directors and leadership spheres that have made a real impact in the region and in the state. Among regional initiatives, EDC played a pivotal role in the passage of TransNet, the $14-billion transportation measure, and led the region's successful efforts to retain and grow its military presence in the most recent round of base closures.

During her tenure, the organization won national and international awards from the U.S. Department of Commerce and CoreNet, an international organization of corporate real estate and site selection executives. The organization conducted C-level executive forums to prioritize critical competitiveness issues impacting the region's innovation-driven industries.

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDC launched the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region in partnership with the Imperial Valley EDC and partners in Baja California. Last year, EDC was one of seven organizations nationally selected for a $500,000 Wal-Mart America Works grant to work with partners in the mega-region on healthcare / medical assistant training and a new machinist training program to build important workforce skills, and was a partner in the $4-million Green Challenge/EDGE grant to train for jobs in the emerging biofuels industry.

"We have just completed an update to our strategic plan, One Region One Future, strengthening our business development team and refocusing our policy on a handful of proactive, critical initiatives that will affect the region's attractiveness for investment. I plan to use 2011 to ensure a smooth transition for EDC and to build on the momentum we have going into the new year, with several important company attraction projects in the pipeline," Wright said.

Malin Burnham, long-time EDC Board member and Chairman of both the Chairman's Council and the Strategic Roundtable, two of EDC's leadership spheres, said, "I've worked closely with EDC for more than 40 years, and am proud of the influential business organization it has become. We will miss Julie, but she leaves a strong legacy."

Prior to coming to San Diego, Wright served as California's first Secretary of Trade and Commerce and a member of Governor Pete Wilson's Cabinet from 1991 to 1997. She led the Administration's wide-ranging business climate reforms and built a new Agency involved in the creation or retention of more than 100,000 jobs in California from 1994-1998 and expanded the state's international role and presence, opening five new overseas offices. Prior to her time in Sacramento and San Diego, she spent 25 years in executive marketing and public affairs positions in the private sector, including 14 years with TRW Inc., now a part of Northrop-Grumman.

Wright has received numerous leadership awards including Director of the Year for Not-for-Profit Boards and Director of the Year for Companies in Transition by the Corporate Directors Forum; one of the "Women Who Move the City" and "50 People to Watch" by San Diego Magazine; the "Women of Distinction" award from Soroptimist International; Junior Achievement's San Diego Hall of Fame Lifetime Laureate Award; and the San Diego Business Journal's Women Who Mean Business Award. During her tenure as Secretary of Trade and Commerce, Wright was named California Leader of the Year by Leadership California and the nation's Outstanding Secretary of Commerce by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

San Diego Regional EDC is supported by more than 150 of San Diego's largest companies and most influential business leaders. EDC's business development programs support significant corporate outreach and retention initiatives, while nurturing emerging industries and attracting new corporate investment through targeted marketing initiatives. The policy programs are focused on creating a competitive business climate for the region through private-sector-driven priorities.

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