By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Marcel Wagner Jr., an economic developer from Ohio, has been hired to lead the Great River Economic Development Foundation.
Wagner was unanimously approved by the GREDF Board of Directors on March 5 after an 11-member search committee recommended him. The president's position was left vacant by Jim Mentesti's retirement last August after nearly 27 years with the organization. Mentesti has served as a consultant since his retirement and Phil Conover has been interim president.
"One of the things that attracted me to the community is the strength of the partnerships I see here," Wagner said. "I'm a great believer in collaboration and partnerships. I know that success comes from people and groups working together."
Wagner, 64, has spent the last 19 years as president and CEO of the Allen Economic Development Group of Lima, Ohio, and was executive vice president of the group for two years before that. He retired from his position in January.
The AEDG is a public/private partnership with a $500,000 annual budget and a staff of five. Allen County has a population of 110,000 and is in the northwestern corner of Ohio. Lima, population 38,771, is the county seat and largest city.
GREDF Board Chairman Tim Finlay was a member of the search committee and said Wagner made a good impression during interviews.
"Marcel's years of experience as an economic development professional and proven track record in a region with similar characteristics to our Tri-state region made him stand out among the pool of strong local and national candidates we interviewed," Finlay said.
Conover said he was pleased to learn that Wagner has a strong business recruiting background and contact with site consultants in a number of business sectors.
"That's really huge for us. Personal contacts and face-to-face relationships are very important in recruiting efforts," Conover said.
Wagner said he plans to "hit the ground running" in Quincy and wants to have an aggressive recruitment program.
"The presence of such a qualified staff and committed GREDF Board were very important to me as I went through the selection process," Wagner said.
"My wife and I are eager to make the Tri-state region our home."
In his former job, Wagner set up a regional marketing plan, established a foreign trade zone, oversaw the construction and sale of five spec buildings, helped set up two entrepreneurship centers and administered a private loan fund.
He had a part in commercial projects that created 6,300 jobs and the retention of 3,500 at-risk jobs. A 1.2 million-square-foot Proctor and Gamble distribution center was built in Lima during Wagner's tenure. Defense contractor General Dynamics and Bob Evans are among other large manufacturers in Lima.
• President and CEO of Allen Economic Development Group, Lima, Ohio, March 1994-Jan. 2013.
• Executive vice president of development at Allen Economic Development Group, March 1992-March 1994.
• Owner Prestige Custom Design and Building, Richboro, Pa. and Lima, Ohio, June 1986-March 1992.
• Corporate operations manager, Nationwide Industries, Bensalem, Pa., Sept. 1974-June 1986.
• Traffic distribution manager, Magic Marker Corp., Cherry Hill, N.J., June 1970-Sept. 1974.
• Bachelor's degree in economics and minor in business management, Kings College, Wilkes Barre, Pa., 1970.
• Economic Development Institute, University of Oklahoma, graduated spring 1997.
• Certified economic developer certification completed, Jan. 1998.
An open house and press conference will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Oakley-Lindsay Center.