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EDA Leadership Announces Staffing Changes


The leadership of the Bay Economic Development Alliance (Bay EDA) recently announced that Executive Director, Neal Wade will be moving on to a new chapter in his career. Wade has the opportunity to pursue a lifelong passion for education and economic development at the University of Alabama, where he will work to establish

an economic development academy. The academy will provide first class educational opportunities for emerging and mid-level professionals and volunteers in the field of economic development.


“For more than a decade, I’ve planned to teach and prepare the next wave of economic developers during my final working years,” said Wade at the organization’s recent Investor’s meeting. “I am proud of the successes that we’ve had during the past three years and the work by this community to increase our competitiveness. I have full confidence in the staff to carry on the mission of the organization and continue to improve the business climate in Bay County.”


Wade joined the Bay EDA as Executive Director in January of 2012, bringing with him over 25 years of experience in the field having served as prior Secretary of Commerce for the State of Alabama and Senior Vice President of Economic Development for The St. Joe Company. “It’s my work with legacy projects while I was with the State of Alabama that made me want to get back in the action at the local level with the Bay EDA, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” commented Wade.


Senior Vice President, Becca Hardin will assume the role as Interim President at the beginning of the 2015. Hardin has 14 years of experience in economic development, with 13 of those years as Executive Vice President of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce.


“My family and I are very excited to become members of this dynamic community. We’ve always known that this is the area where we want to live, work and play,” said Hardin. “While I’m still learning about all of the great assets that we have here, my goal is to have a laser focused approach to marketing to continue to get the word out about all that we have to offer.” 


Chairman of the organization, John Ed McDanal commented, “Bay County and northwest Florida have been incredibly fortunate to have had Neal Wade at the helm of our economic development efforts for the past three years. We will miss him tremendously, but we are delighted to welcome Becca Hardin to the team and have no doubt that she can build upon our foundation and help take us to the next level.”

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