By Lee Morrison
The Times-Reporter Business Editor
November 1, 2008 - Gary D. Little, the new executive director of the Tuscarawas County Community Improvement Corp., is drawing rave reviews - and he doesn't start the job until Monday.
"We had a significant number of applicants for the position," said Gregg Andrews, president of the CIC board and head of the search committee. "There were about a dozen that we felt were a good fit for the position."
The Marietta resident was selected from among five finalists.
"Gary is an outstanding person to fill this position," said Andrews, who also is the dean of Tuscarawas Campus of Kent State University at New Philadelphia. "He has a strong background in economic development, community organization, marketing and technology. He is energetic and knows how to get things done. He has been successful in grant writing, including securing a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for the WIRED project.
"He has developed relationships with local, state and federal officials that will be of great benefit to the development of the Tuscarawas Regional Technology Park. I am looking forward to working with him on this important project..."
Mike Lauber also was on the search committee.
"He has tremendous contacts and great experience," Lauber said. "He's technologically savvy and has a real 'can-do attitude.' I think he's going to be a tremendous asset to Tuscarawas County, just as Bill Gotschall and Heinz Stucki were previously in the job."
Little most recently served as president of the Information Technology Alliance of Appalachian Ohio Inc. at Athens since 2001. ITAAO is dedicated to growing and improving the competitiveness of Appalachian Ohio's information technology industry. ITAAO serves 29 counties, including Tuscarawas County.
"My immediate focus will be to attract high-tech businesses to the Tuscarawas Regional Technology Park," Little said. "This exceptional property with big pipe broadband capacity, the attractive setting, the proximity to Kent State-Tuscarawas and Buckeye Career Center, as well as the quality community life of New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County, are assets high-tech companies and entrepreneurs will be hard pressed to overlook."
He said the CIC has "put into motion strategic plans with the Technology Park, the planned Tolloty Center for high-tech business incubation, and partnerships with Kent State-Tuscarawas that are positioning Tuscarawas County for the development of a 21st Century high-tech economy.
"I'm excited about coming to Tuscarawas County. I look forward to applying my education and experience in real estate, private nonprofit management and high-tech business development and support to this exciting and progressive effort.
"Our potential for success has been greatly enhanced by the dedicated and forward-thinking work of the entire CIC board, but especially the previous board president, Mike Lauber; current board President Dr. Gregg Andrews; the most recent interim executive director, Bill Gotschall; and the past executive director, Dr. Heinz Stucki. Their persistent hard work has made the Tuscarawas County Regional Technology Park possible. Now, our job is the population of that park with companies that have high-tech, high-paying jobs that will provide for area families for years to come."
Little obtained his bachelor's degree in political science from Marietta College at Marietta in 1972.
He also is a graduate of the Realtor's Institute (GRI) of the Ohio Assn. of Realtors. He completed a national internship in community development from the Development Training Institute/Pratt Institute at Baltimore, Md. in 1992. He completed the Appalachian Leadership Academy in 2000 and obtained a master's degree in public administration from Ohio University at Athens in 2005.
He served as operations director for the Washington County Economic Development Office at Marietta in 2001, managing marketing, property and fundraising activities.
As Community Development Specialist for the Corp. for Ohio Appalachian Development from 1995 to 2000, he was manager for Project Good START. He worked with community leaders in public and business sectors in 20 communities.
He also has experience in human resources, grant writing and planning.
Little also worked part time or full time in real estate from 1976 to 2002 as a salesman, appraiser and broker. He taught real estate as adjunct faculty for Washington State Community College at Marietta from 1991 to 2003.
Little is no stranger to Tuscarawas County, visiting many times over the years. In 2005, he was the featured speaker at the Technology Spotlight Breakfast, sponsored by the Tuscarawas Regional Technology Accelerator at Kent State-Tuscarawas. It is the first accelerator of its type in rural Ohio. The accelerator was established to foster the growth of new and existing technology companies in eastern Ohio by connecting them to organizations that have become resource partners. He discussed the expanding information technology sector in the region, including new ventures in computer game development for education and recreation.
Among ITAAO board members is Ted Gentsch, director of information services for Lauren International Inc. at New Philadelphia.
"He's got a ton of energy, and is very resourceful," Gentsch said of Little. "He's a very forward-thinking individual. When I heard he was becoming the CIC director, the first thing I thought was, 'It's a perfect fit.'
"I've been involved with the CIC's broadband efforts over the years and this is exactly what they need. Gary's very articulate and has the right skill set to take the whole tech park initiative to the next level. I think they will be very pleased with that selection. It will be a huge void for the ITAAO board. He's working through that and helping us secure another director."
New Philadelphia Mayor Mike Taylor called Little's hiring a good move.
"He has a very well-rounded background working with government entities and grants and that expertise will be invaluable as we move forward to develop the high-tech park. I look forward to a good working relationship between the city and the CIC with his leadership."
Poggemyer Design Group was recently selected as architects and engineers on the Tolloty Technology Center Incubator.