WILMINGTON — For many, the Wilmington Air Park symbolizes Wilmington’s economy. Both were devastated when DHL left.
Presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich even used Wilmington as a microcosm for the state’s economy at his State of the State speech, when he said, “The sun is coming up again in Wilmington … The sun is coming up in Ohio, but it’s not reached its zenith.”
Now, Dan Evers has been hired to manage the Wilmington Air Park and develop Clinton County’s economy as executive director of the Clinton County Port Authority.
“I recognized … what a ‘make-or-break’ moment (DHL’s departure) could be for the community,” Evers said. “And I was struck by the resolve of the community to do everything possible to turn this huge challenge into a long-term opportunity … and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the future of this opportunity and this story.”
Evers, who will leave his post as economic development director of GROW Licking County Community Improvement Corporation, will replace Kevin Carver, whose contract expires at the end of this year. Evers spoke highly of Carver, and said he had big shoes to fill.
“In all sincerity, there are very few opportunities that would have caused me to consider leaving Licking County,” Evers said. “It is a community that I have come to love and has been very good to me, and, as a community and as a team, we’ve had a reasonable measure of success, particularly for a new organization.”
Carver and port chair David Hocakday, whose term expires at the end of September, said Evers has experience that they believe will benefit the port.
“He is familiar with economic development, and he is familiar with the ins and outs of port authorities,” Hockaday said. “He knows the financing all of these things involve. … I think he’ll be quite good at it.”
Carver added that Evers has a “significant background in economic development and government management at a senior level,” and is familiar with Ohio’s laws, government accounting and other regulations.
Evers’ resume shows more than 20 years’ experience working in economic development and in the public sector, including being a township administrator for Deerfield and Sugarcreek townships and business development director for the Downtown Dayton Partnership. The CIC Evers works for now is a public-private venture.
Evers said he believes his experience working with those teams and others, and the existing network at the port, can help the port in its dual charges of managing the air park and spurring development.
To do those things, Evers said he wants “to be as effective as humanly possible, implementing the vision of the board; to be as effective a colleague and community member as I’m capable and to constantly be part of … making a positive change in the community.”
He also said the port’s board has goals and is changing, “and I’m excited to learn what the board sees as its future and the port’s future and the park’s future and to be part of making that vision reality.”
Clinton County and the Wilmington Air Park’s story, Evers said, is one of resolve and one that he’s “flattered and honored” to become part of.
“If you step back and look, if you look at the story in pieces and then in a linear fashion, ask yourself how many people, how many organizations, how many cities and counties would have just given up,” Evers said. “You don’t even have to ask yourself. You can look around and see it. I have been places were major manufacturers and the largest employers pulled out. Not everybody responds the way this community did. That’s special. That speaks volumes about the place.”
Evers said he was born in Cincinnati and moved as a child to Hamilton, where he would later intern for the city, doing economic development research while in college. He has three children, 23-year-old Maggie, 21-year-old Drew and 16-year-old Dylan. He intends to move to live in the community but expects a phase of transition.
Evers declined to say what his salary would be, saying that he hasn’t received the contract yet and doesn’t want to “misrepresent my understanding.”
The Wilmington News Journal has requested a copy of the contract and, once that request is satisfied, will follow up on this story.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.