Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chairman of JEDC Stepping Down in February; Harden Says He's Done All He Can at This Point, and It's Time for New Leadership

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chairman of JEDC Stepping Down in February; Harden Says He's Done All He Can at This Point, and It's Time for New Leadership

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE LIGHT

The February meeting of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission will be the last for Chair Ceree Harden, marking the end of a tenure that saw the commission's most significant evolution in its history.

Commissioner Bob Rhodes will take the reins after the meeting on Feb. 8.

The change in leadership comes soon after the commission and its staff reached several significant milestones, including the implementation of the Public Investment Policy, which governs incentives that the city gives to businesses and developers. Four task forces created by the JEDC are also nearing the conclusion of studies that they hope will solve some of the problems in creating a vibrant downtown.

Harden, whose term would have expired in June 2008, said that he mulled resigning for the past few months and felt that he had completed the objectives that he and the mayor hoped to achieve at his chairmanship's inception.

"I feel we're at the end of those achievements," Harden said. "It's time for new leadership to take it to the next mile."

Harden, who is president of insurance company Harden & Associates, said that demands on his time had also significantly increased at the end of the year. His company has partnered with other local Jacksonville businesses to develop a new tower on Riverside Avenue that is nearing completion.

Harden has not yet submitted his resignation to the mayor but has let the mayor know his intent, Harden said.

The resignation will make room for the ascension of Rhodes, who is an attorney with Foley and Lardner.

Rhodes was a natural choice for the role, said JEDC Executive Director Ron Barton.

"He knows how we work and what we do," Barton said. "He has a good background for the downtown issues that we're going to be dealing with over the next couple years."

Rhodes has worked with the JEDC for about five years and chaired the Downtown Development Authority, which has now disbanded. …

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