Partners in Progress Chairman Steps Down After 10 Years
Fred Hobbs, who has served as chairman of Moore County Partners in Progress since its inception a decade ago, stepped down from the post Tuesday to devote more time to Hobbs Upchurch Associates in the wake of a recent medical emergency suffered by business partner David Upchurch.
“It’s caused me to re-examine what I’m going to do at Hobbs Upchurch,” Hobbs, a former state senator, told the Partners in Progress board of directors. “It’s been a great privilege and a great honor to serve with all of you. Now is a suitable time for this transition to take place.”
Hobbs and Upchurch co-founded their civil engineering firm in Southern Pines almost 30 years ago.
Shortly after Hobbs stepped down Tuesday, the board unanimously voted to name Pinehurst attorney John May as his successor.
“We have nothing but the highest regard for your work and your efforts,” May told Hobbs after the two switched seats at the table. “Whatever comes forward with this group, we can thank you.”
May, who has also served on the Partners board since the economic development group was founded in 2002, said Hobbs has overseen $45.5 million in new capital investment in Moore County and the creation of more than 1,600 new jobs.
“His shoes will be hard to fill,” May said.
Partners Executive Director Pat Corso, a founding board member who was CEO of Pinehurst Resort at the time, presented Hobbs with a plaque thanking him for his service.
“We appreciate the continuity you have brought to this organization over the years,” Corso said. “I’m sure I speak for the entire board when I say how greatly you will be missed.”
Prior to 2002, economic development in Moore County was a function of the Sandhills Area Chamber of Commerce, which is now the Moore County Chamber of Commerce.
But Hobbs and other community and business leaders felt economic development should have its own identity through an independent, nonprofit corporation while still maintaining the partnership between local government and private business.
“As the first chairman, Fred brought vision and direction to the organization when its future was uncertain,” said George Little, owner of Little & Associates in Southern Pines and a board member since 2002. “Under his leadership over the past decade, Partners has evolved into a successful economic development organization that has brought new jobs into our community, helped generate tax revenue through new investment, and contributed to maintaining the exceptional quality of life we enjoy here in Moore County.”
Sandhills Community College President John Dempsey agreed, saying, “Fred’s appreciation for Moore County and all it offers, and his genuine desire to help this area grow in a positive and responsible way, have always been the cornerstones of his leadership.”
Hobbs said Tuesday that he is most proud of hiring Ray Ogden as the group’s first executive director and Corso as Ogden’s successor.
“We wanted an economic developer from a nontraditional background, but someone with an affinity for Moore County,” Hobbs said. “The board was anxious to hire someone right away, but the members had the patience to wait for Ray. And the board reaffirmed its original intent by hiring Pat.
“Those are the two moments that stand out for me, not to mention the board giving both men the latitude to do their jobs the way they thought it should be done.”
Pinehurst Mayor Nancy Fiorillo praised Hobbs during the Village Council’s work session Tuesday morning.
“Fred Hobbs has devoted an incredible amount of time to Partners (in Progress) and has done good work for this area,” Fiorillo said. “We are sorry to see him go, but we look forward to working with John May and are confident he will do a good job in his new role.”
Even though Hobbs will no longer be directly involved with Partners, he plans to continue supporting local economic development.
“I’m not going away,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the tangible outcomes and positive impact Partners’ initiatives will have in Moore County.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story