Ogden Stepping Aside
The success that Ray Ogden has enjoyed as executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress is rooted in the worst day of his career.
Nearly nine years ago, Ogden stood in front of 150 employees at Intech, a textile plant in Aberdeen, and told them they no longer had jobs.
“That was tough,” says Ogden, who was a manager at the plant. “When the opportunity at Partners came up, I was determined to get all of those people new jobs. I honestly thought I’d do it for about a year.
“Here it is eight years later, and it’s the most fulfilling, fun work I’ve ever done.”
Ogden begins the exit process on July 1, when he switches to part-time status. He will fully step aside by the end of the year. Pat Corso, the former president and CEO of Pinehurst Resort, will assume Ogden’s role full time on Sept. 1.
The transition will be announced tonight at the Partners in Progress annual dinner at the resort’s Carolina Hotel.
“I’m thrilled that Pat has decided to come into this position,” Ogden says. “I think he will be a wonderful leader and will be able to take this organization to the next level.”
Partners is the nonprofit economic development organization for Moore County. The executive director works to create jobs and economic opportunities by bringing new businesses to the county, as well as retaining and expanding current businesses.
Partners Chairman Fred Hobbs believes that Ogden has done exceedingly well at the latter through the recession, noting that there have been 12 expansions since the October 2008 stock market crash.
“I think Ray has done a superb job,” Hobbs says. “It’s not just the new companies that he’s recruited, it’s the expansion of existing companies.
“Ray has focused on the whole county. He has tried to make sure that what Partners found fits all over so everybody had a taste of the success brought by the growth. Ray understands the importance of the tide raising all of the boats.”
Ogden says he believes that any smooth sailing over the past eight years is tied to working with Melanie Thompson, who was hired as office manager three months before his arrival in November 2003.
“I learned long ago that the best thing you can do to get anywhere is hire people smarter than you,” Ogden says. “While I didn’t hire Melanie, this organization wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is today without her intellect and hard work. Having her in place when I got here was a real blessing.”
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, says Ogden’s industrial background and humility were the perfect combination for the job.
“He had an instant connection with prospects,” Coughlin says. “He was a colleague who could speak with them in a way that they understood. That’s one of the things that made him so successful.
“But Ray is not just a successful economic developer, he’s a great guy. He’s open, honest and never pulls punches. I just can’t say enough about his character. I’m going to miss him.”
Since 2003, Partners has assisted in bringing almost $45 million in investment and about 1,500 new jobs to Moore County.
Ogden adds that projects such as the Southern Pines Corporate Park and the multi-county mega park bode well for the county’s economic future.
“We didn’t have product like that eight years ago,” he says. “I think that sets the stage well going forward.”
Thompson credits Ogden with laying the foundation for success by getting out and pressing the flesh.
“Ray has projected a positive image for Partners,” she says. “He is well-liked and well-respected in the community. One of Ray’s initial goals was to bring awareness among local and state officials to Partners, and that continues to this day.”
Thompson also credits Ogden for giving her the autonomy and flexibility to try new things, such as writing news releases, designing the Partners website and establishing its Facebook page.
“He’s definitely not a micromanager,” she says. “I hate to see him go. I hope that I’ve made his job easier.”
Thompson describes Ogden as the Partners’ “front man” and herself as the “behind-the-scenes person.”
“We’ve had a professional relationship that has been very successful for Moore County,” she says. “I look forward to continuing that success with Pat.”
Hobbs notes that Corso held the top spot at the resort when Partners took its current form about a decade ago.
“Pat was around at the birth, if you will,” Hobbs says. “He had a passion for it to begin with. Our board couldn’t be any happier. The vote to hire Pat was unanimous. We’re all thrilled that he’s chosen to take the job.”
Meanwhile, Ogden plans to stay active in the community.
“I’ve got several projects, both personal and professional, that I want to spend more time on,” he says. “I might play a few more rounds of golf as well.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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