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Private equity exec to lead NC Economic Development Partnership

Posted January 7, 2014

Richard Lindenmuth
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— Richard Lindenmuth, a former executive with ITT in Raleigh and currently a partner in private equity firm Vetro Partners, was named Tuesday to lead the new Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said the nonprofit, which is the private side of the states public-private economic recruiting partnership, will help North Carolina attract and retain businesses.

Lindenmuth's position as chief executive is listed as "interim."

In a conference call, Decker said Lindenmuth will be paid $120,000 plus expenses related to the job under terms of a personal services contract.

"The opportunity is huge," Lindenmuth said of the new organization. "We have to come up with something that  makes sense."

Lindenmuth has more than 30 years of experience in business as a CEO and an executive working in a number of different roles, such as turnarounds. He is a Navy veteran, a licensed commercial pilot and holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. He has lived in North Carolina since 1981.

He said the new organization was still in the process of being created.

"Changing a system is one of the hardest things ever to be accomplished," he explained. "We don't know what [the organization] will look like exactly a year from now.

"If we had all the answers," he added, "it would be real simple."

According to Decker, Lindenmuth's job includes "defining the organization" and "supporting legislative action" at the General Assembly. Decker said she is continuing to consult with legislative leaders about the privatization effort, which so far has been permitted under a budget resolution that allows the governor to spend about $1 million.

Decker said Lindenmuth's work at Vetro influenced her decision to hire him.

"He is absolutely confident in dealing with change management," she said. She said she had reviewed "20 to 25 candidates" for the job and interviewed "a dozen."

McCrory was asked by reporters after the Council of State meeting today if Lindenmuth is the right person for the job. 

“Incredible international and manufacturing experience, which fits into our future Commerce and job creation goals," McCrory replied. “One thing we’re learning is that almost every new job creation project that we’re working on has some sort of international component, and he brings both the international component and the operations and manufacturing component to a skill set that is needed in the future.”

As many as 67 state workers could be affected by the changes under way at Commerce, Decker noted. Lindenmuth will have a role recruiting and hiring for positions in the Economic Development Partnership, and some current workers could be hired, she said.

“North Carolina is starting to see signs of economic recovery, and this new partnership will strengthen our state’s recruiting efforts and increase efficiency,” McCrory said earlier n a statement. “Richard Lindenmuth’s leadership and job expertise in business operations will play a critical role in directing this new organization.”

Lindenmuth has a varied background as a corporate executive, having served as a CEO of more than 10 companies, according to the Commerce Department. He led some 12,000 workers while serving as president of ITT's Business and Consumer Communications Group in Raleigh.

“Richard’s experience makes him an ideal candidate to lead the new partnership,” Decker said in the announcement. “He is known as a change agent and for successfully helping organizations through transition. Richard will be instrumental in helping us increase customer focus, as well as speed and efficiency in all economic development initiatives.”

Incorporation papers for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina Inc. were filed with the Secretary of State's Office last September. The new group will be a 501(c)3 nonprofit that will handle business recruiting functions for the state.

According to Decker and other administration officials, the new nonprofit will be able to react faster than government officials to inquiries from businesses hoping to relocate or expand in North Carolina.

Progress on the nonprofit is proceeding despite the lack of a full-throated endorsement from the General Assembly.

Lawmakers failed to pass a bill detailing how the nonprofit should operate, mainly because it was attached to a controversial measure dealing with energy production in the state. However, a smaller provision in the state budget gives the Commerce Department authority to move ahead with the changes.

That budget provision is much less detailed than the standalone bill and gives the department wide latitude in how to construct the new nonprofit. But in a prior interview, Decker has said she plans to follow the more detailed outline laid out in the bill that fell short of legislative approval.

According to its incorporation papers, the nonprofit will be "collaborating with the North Carolina Department of Commerce to assist, promote, and enhance economic opportunities, particularly in the State of North Carolina's rural and urban communities; and involving the private sector in a meaningful and material way in economic development efforts previously undertaken by the State of North Carolina and its instrumentalities and political subdivisions, and thereby lessening the burdens on, and of, government."

Although the incorporation papers don't specify, the initial 15-member board would be appointed by the governor, speaker of the House and Senate president pro tem, according to Senate Bill 127.

29 Comments

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  • rushbot Jan 7, 2014

    "
    I did something called "research" to answer some of the assumptions made on this comment board. I used this thing called Google, it's pretty cool. No one with the last name of Lindenmuth or any of the corporations he was associated with made a campaign contribution to McCrory. He even thinks that tax breaks are not the way to go when drawing in business. He prefers good schools, cost of living being in check and a good business environement. The guy is pretty impressive. I guess if you would prefer someone that has held the same job for 30 years like some of our politicians, rather than being the CEO of 10 different companies, he's not the guy for you. It's a shame that we let our party affiliations or dislike of someone cloud our opinions and judgement of someone.
    millers
    January 7, 2014 1:05 p.m." .. .. ..except his previous employer..with whom i will assume he has close ties is a multi-national who seems to do the majority of work offshore..ever here about offshoring....

  • spiritseeker Jan 7, 2014

    How much of the offer made to him is a payback for his contributions to the Republican Party and Republican candidates and will his staff be politically correct individuals that also contributed and/or worked for conservative causes? Additionally is he a strong proponent of ALEC and that organization's recidivist policies.

  • gswalker51 Jan 7, 2014

    Any job paying over $100K anywhere in this state is the result of someone knowing a guy who knows someone. Get over it.

  • Pooter McGooter Jan 7, 2014

    Great! Hiring someone with business experience to guard the hen house. How brilliant! Republicans. They never give up. Not until everyone else but them is poor. How come they didn't put a Teacher in this position? I wonder.

  • jonara Jan 7, 2014

    "No one with the last name of Lindenmuth or any of the corporations he was associated with made a campaign contribution to McCrory."---millers--- You should search harder. Check all Suharto companies. Richard Alan Lindenmuth is a Suharto crony. The same Suharto that stole $35 billion. Choose your battles wisely millers. That you are defending is not as it seems.

  • jonara Jan 7, 2014

    Everyone should be very concerned about this. Lindenmuth is a known Suharto Co. crony. Yes that same Suharto that stole $35 billion. This looks like another crony set up to help scam the people of NC.

  • HeadsUp Jan 7, 2014

    "Lindenmuth ... even thinks that tax breaks are not the way to go when drawing in business." -- millers

    That's very interesting, if true, given that in Lindenmuth's new job he will help decide which businesses get which state tax breaks to come to N.C. or expand here.

  • dontstopnow Jan 7, 2014

    Bravo millers! Well said and so true.

    I am a big fan of jobs and if this guy can get them in NC, I am all for him doing the job. We all benefit if he is successful so why would anyone want to talk about doom and gloom hoping he is a failure? Sad people.

  • jonara Jan 7, 2014

    "rather than being the CEO of 10 different companies, he's not the guy for you."---millers--- Sounds like job hopping to me. Why can't he hold down a job?!

  • millers Jan 7, 2014

    I did something called "research" to answer some of the assumptions made on this comment board. I used this thing called Google, it's pretty cool. No one with the last name of Lindenmuth or any of the corporations he was associated with made a campaign contribution to McCrory. He even thinks that tax breaks are not the way to go when drawing in business. He prefers good schools, cost of living being in check and a good business environement. The guy is pretty impressive. I guess if you would prefer someone that has held the same job for 30 years like some of our politicians, rather than being the CEO of 10 different companies, he's not the guy for you. It's a shame that we let our party affiliations or dislike of someone cloud our opinions and judgement of someone.

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