Bullitt EDA tabs former director of W.Va. post

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By Thomas Barr

      SHEPHERDSVILLE – A man who has led economic development efforts for an entire state is now leading that charge for Bullitt County.

     The Bullitt County Economic Development Authority has tabbed John R. Snider as its new executive director.

     He replaces Bob Fouts, who opted to not seek a renewal of his contract after nine years at the helm.

     “He liked what Bullitt County had to offer,” said Mark Stout, an EDA member who was part of the search committee.

     After a brief executive session, the local agency introduced Snider, who was in his office working the next morning.

     “I believe my skill set and experience will be very helpful to the Bullitt County community,” Snider said in a release. “My previous work at the community and state levels gave me a great deal of satisfaction and I am returning to a field I truly enjoy.”

     Snider met with several members of the local community, including Bullitt County Judge Melanie Roberts, after the announcement.

     In outlining his broad background, Snider said he has a little different perspective on economic development.

     Jobs are often the focal point but Snider said it was more than that. He was concerned with making sure there are opportunities for children to remain close to home for their employment.

     In looking at Bullitt County’s opening, Snider said he looked at what was here and what could be done.

     Considering the resources spent, Snider said the county’s success has been impressive.

       “You all have done a heckuva job,” said Snider. “I’m excited to help.”

       The graduate of Marshall University with a master’s degree in public administration from West Virginia University has most recently served as vice president for external affairs at Arch Coal Inc. Before that 12-year stint, Snider was director of West Virginia’s development office and also as business and industrial director for the state.

       During his time at Arch Coal, Snider had the opportunity to lobby in several states, including Kentucky. He said his time in Washington allowed him to get to know the Kentucky delegation, including U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and the other congressmen. He also has a good working relationship with Gov. Steve Beshear.

       Snider said he things many great things are in Bullitt County’s future.

       “We were very fortunate,” said Frank Ragg, chairman of the Bullitt County EDA. “We had a lot of good candidates. We just had a good feeling from him and he rose to the top.”

       Stout said the search committee looked at seven applicants. While experience in various fields was important, Stout said he was personally impressed with another part of the interview process.

       “He wanted to work in Bullitt County,” Stout said of Snider. “He wanted to be here.”

       Some of the search criteria included experience in the field and in government, as well as a degree from the EDA Institute.

       Considering the financial base available, Stout said he felt the county was very fortunate to find someone of Snider’s caliber.

     A formal contract will be approved in March. The county was spending a little over $60,000 per year to compensate Fouts.

     Nicky Rapier, a Salt River Electric employee, assisted the past four months as the interim director while the search process was underway.

     Fouts has since become a consultant for Salt River Electric and works on economic development projects in each of the member counties, which includes Bullitt.    

     Doris Owen works part-time in the EDA office as the lone employee. She serves the role as an administrative assistant.

     The office is funded by an annual contribution of Bullitt Fiscal Court. The current appropriation is $115,000. The agency has also supplemented that funding, at times, from the private sector.

     The county’s EDA office is located on the second floor of the county courthouse.