Development Authority launches search to replace executive director

Walter Sprouse

The Augusta Economic Development Authority announced Tuesday that it has launched its search for a new leader to replace the departing Walter Sprouse.


Sprouse, who had led the business marketing organization for the past 14 years as its executive director, will assist with “the transition and orientation” of his replacement, said authority Chairman Henry Ingram.

“The Augusta EDA is in a very positive position right now,” Ingram said. “Walter has been instrumental in building a pro-business atmosphere in Augusta during his tenure. Dozens of new businesses have located to our city and many existing industries have expanded their operations, thanks to Walter’s persistence and drive.”

Ingram also said that the job title will change from executive director to president, “to better reflect the role” and to match similar chief executive titles at other local organizations such as the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau. The president will be the authority’s chief executive officer.

The authority is responsible for recruiting new business and industry to Richmond County, and for helping ensure those businesses stay, expand and thrive by offering incentives such as bond financing and tax abatements.

Pat Schaffer, the chairwoman of the authority’s personnel committee, said the new president will help market Augusta to business and industry with a trained eye toward the area’s burgeoning cybersecurity sector.

“We are searching for a qualified professional who will market our community and build relationships with all types of business – from manufacturing to cyber to retail,” Schaffer said. “Our goal is to build upon the economic development foundation in place today but with a more strategic approach.”

Applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree and ideally postgraduate work or equivalent experience. Candidates also should have a minimum of five years of management, executive and strategic leadership experience in the economic and/or community development field, the authority said in a news release.

Résumés are being accepted through Oct. 18.

The Chason Group, a Cartersville, Ga.-based executive search firm, has been contracted to perform searches to help fill the position. Chason also helped the authority fill two positions after project managers Scott Poag and Jonathan Davis resigned within a week of each other in March.

The authority voted unanimously Sept. 14 to approve Sprouse’s retirement, effective Dec. 31, after its members emerged from executive session.

Sprouse has been executive director since 2003. Before arriving in Augusta, he had worked in economic development and chamber of commerce positions in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Asheboro, N.C. His most recent job had been as president of his own economic development and community preparedness consulting firm.

Reach Joe Hotchkiss at (706) 823-3543 or