HOB Names New Director - Brevard NC
Last updated 9/11/2013 at 1:24pm
The Heart of Brevard (HOB) announced the hiring Wednesday of Heath Seymour as its new executive director.
The decision was approved in a unanimous vote by the HOB board. Seymour was hired following a months-long search.
He becomes the first full-time executive director hired since Madrid Zimmerman’s departure in May 2012. Michael Trufant served as interim executive director for around six months before he resigned.
Seymour will sign a three-year agreement with the HOB.
According to Jeremy Owen, the HOB’s president, Seymour’s salary will be around $53,000 annually, which brings it in line with the average salary for other similar directors across the state. At the time of her departure, Zimmerman was reportedly earning roughly $43,000.
In total, 28 applicants applied for the executive director position.
After narrowing down the applicants, three finalists visited Brevard for a weekend before being interviewed by board members. During their stay Mayor Jimmy Harris gave them a tour of downtown and visited one-on-one with each candidate.
When asked about his initial impression of Brevard’s downtown district, Seymour said it was a good one.
“You can go to any town in the world and you’ll find that there is always room for improvement,” he said. “I think it’s a great town with a whole lot there. There is always work to be done in any downtown, but I think Brevard really has a lot to offer. Right now there are a lot of shops, there are some nice restaurants and overall there really is a lot to offer people when they come to visit. I think it was a good experience coming downtown.”
Previously, Seymour worked as executive director of Elizabethtown-Hardin County Heritage Council in Elizabethtown, Ky. Before that, he spent a year in Statesboro, Ga., a town he said resembles Brevard in some ways.
During his time there, Seymour said the city experienced an increase in economic growth due in part to the addition of new restaurants and retail stores.
Seymour traces his roots in main street development back to his childhood when he spent time playing in the downtown district of Elizabethtown, Ky.
“I’ve always had a love for downtowns,” he said. “I grew up running around in a downtown when my dad had a shop in the downtown area.”
After working as an artist for around 12 years, Seymour opted to seek a master’s degree from the University of Louisville in business administration in entrepreneurship.
It was during that time period that he rekindled his love for downtowns as he learned more about main street programs. The N.C. Main Street program helps accredited municipalities, such as Brevard, with ways to strengthen their downtowns.
“While I was there I got an interest in economics and be-came involved in downtown development during that time (in Louisville),” he said.
Seymour said he is looking forward to transitioning to life in Brevard with his wife and two daughters, who are 11 and 8. During a trip through the region from Georgia to Kentucky a few years ago, Seymour said he and his wife both agreed that if they were ever given the opportunity, they’d like to relocate to this area.
“It’s an area we always loved,” he said. “It lines up with a lot of our interests, with arts and music and outdoors. We think it’s a pretty good fit and we were excited to get a chance to come there.”
Seymour said one of the things that appealed most to him about Brevard was the thriving arts culture.
“When I saw the arts gallery and the atmosphere there, it seemed like a pretty good fit,” he said.
Seymour, who also worked as an art professor at a college in Kentucky, still showcases his artwork at galleries around the Southeast.
Owen believes Seymour’s hiring will mark an exciting new chapter for the HOB.
“There are a lot of great things going on,” Owen said. “We’ve seen great cooperation and partnership developing with our city government and are really feeling very positive about the steps we’ve got laid out in front of us.”
Owen said the HOB would continue to follow the strategic plan of action that was presented to Brevard City Council last May.
“We’re very excited to have Heath coming in,” he said. “He’s highly experienced and very knowledgeable within the Main Street program. We can certainly see he has a real connection to Brevard, and we’re really looking forward to have the opportunity to work with him very soon.”
Seymour will begin his position in early October.