Story by Chris Graham
Greg Hitchin knows that the pressure is there to hit the ground running when he lands in Waynesboro. He also knows that he’s not going to be able to rebuild an economic-development office that went without somebody in the top job for 19 months in a day.
“I’ve got to go out and meet all the stakeholders in the community, whether that be government or private sector, whatever that might be, so I can tell them who I am, and to let them know that they’re going to be an important cog as we move forward,” said Hitchin, who was hired to the economic-development director job in Waynesboro on March 18.
Hitchin, who started on the job on April 12, had most recently served as the business-development manager in Onondaga County in upstate New York for the past 11 years.
Hitchin’s job in New York included responsibility for development and implementation of the economic-development marketing strategy for the Onondaga-Syracuse region. He’d started working toward developing strategies for his new home even before getting the final nod for the economic-development job in Waynesboro, initiating conversations with economic-development folks at the regional and state level to get a feel for where Waynesboro fits in.
“One of my challenges is to gather all of those resources, determine what our strengths and weaknesses and opportunities might be, and catalogue those into a long-term strategic plan,” Hitchin said. “I’ll be doing a lot of face-to-face meetings and a lot of research as I work to come up with that plan as quickly as I can so we can start moving on the implementation of that plan.”
Hitchin sees great potential for the development future of the River City.
“The region has a lot going for it,” Hitchin said. “It’s got population growth, which is not true of every area of the United States. It’s got pretty good infrastructure in terms of transportation, with road and rail and air. All of those are critical in attracting new business. And it’s got the right spirit. That’s really important for someone from the outside looking in. What does the city feel about itself? Do we think we can roll with the time? Can we make changes if we need to in what our workforce does, what their strengths are?
“I think I saw all of those things, and a willingness to move forward, which is really important,” Hitchin said.