WAED Executive Director Finalists’ Interviews Make For Tough Decision

WAYNE – Following the announcement of Wes Blecke accepting the City Administrator position over the summer, the Wayne Area Economic Development (WAED) Board of Directors were on the quest for their next Executive Director.

Blecke was hired as the Assistant Director in November of 2005 and moved up to his Executive Director position during that time. After serving over 11 years with WAED, he was named the Assistant City Administrator for the month of July and was appointed City Administrator as of August 1 by Mayor Ken Chamberlain.

Chair of the Hiring Committee and President of Wayne Area Economic Development Board of Directors for 2017, Matt Ley talked about the timeline following the hiring of Blecke to the City of Wayne.

“As soon as that happened we decided to take it to the full board of Wayne Economic Development and asked how they would like to do it,” said Ley. “They decided to have the accommodation of the Executive Committee which is four of us and then two people from the City Council to get together on a hiring committee.”

Ley has served four years on the Executive Board.

Making up the Board of Directors are two members each from the four sub-committees of Downtown Wayne/Revitalize Wayne, Organization, Marking and Business & Industry as well as seven stake-holders representing the county, city and the college.

About 17 resumes were sent in and narrowed down to seven. After two decided not to call back there were five who received a phone interview. The hiring committee planned on bringing five in for interviews, but one more dropped out.

The candidates were Garry Delano Clark, Jr. (Manager of Nebraska Opportunity Fund – Nebraska Investment Finance Authority), Luke Virgil (Economic Development Coordinator at the City of Laurel), Max Kathol (Kearney Chamber President) and Mark Buschkamp (Executive Director at Cherokee Area Economic Development).

Ley added he has received a lot of positive feedback from the community about the four candidates.

“We have four people already in economic development,” Ley added. “They all have different strengths and weaknesses, but for the most part they’re all really solid candidates and the community came back and how solid that was. In our executive interviews, with our first face-to-face interviews, those were also very solid. To be honest a couple people even surprisingly out did this interview compared to their phone interview and so we certainly have a tough decision a head of us.”

Each Wayne Area Economic Development Executive Director Finalist received a tour of WAED offices and the City of Wayne, visited with the community, were interviewed by the hiring committee and ate lunch.

The group plans on meeting Friday to discuss more of the strengths and weaknesses and will try and figure out which way they want to go over the next few business days.

“This is an important position and it impacts us more than you think,” Ley mentioned. “It’s getting new businesses in, getting new jobs in, getting kids to our school, getting people working with the college. This person touches a lot of people’s lives so we know how important it is and hopefully we make a good decision.”

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