ATLANTA - The seat shifting at the board table for the state's industrial-recruitment agency Thursday was rather low-key compared to the magnitude of changes represented by the personalities taking the new jobs.
During 10 years as commissioner of the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Randy Cardoza hired most of the people responsible for attracting employers, tourists and movie makers to the state. The quiet, cheerful Mr. Cardoza has been an industry recruiter his whole career, in posts like the Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce and as deputy commissioner of the state industry department.
R.K. Sehgal, on the other hand, has spent his career in the private sector. The Auburn University-trained engineer was chairman and chief executive with Law Engineering in Atlanta in 1988 when a magazine named him Georgia's Entrepreneur of the Year. After 11 years in that job, Mr. Sehgal became vice chairman at H.J. Russell & Co. but stepped down when he joined the industry department board nine months ago as chairman.
On Thursday, he switched seats at the board to become full-time commissioner.
While Mr. Cardoza's colleagues and employees credit his diplomacy with helping Georgia become one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, Mr. Sehgal's fans applaud his arm twisting.
"Worldly knowledge, enthusiasm, tenacity: those are the qualities of our new commissioner," said Carl Swearingen, the board member who replaced Mr. Sehgal as chairman. "He has given us the spark."
Mr. Cardoza told Gov. Roy Barnes in February he was leaving, but was asked to stay on until the end of April. He's joining Beers Construction Co. just a few blocks away from his old desk at the industry agency.
"When I talked to the governor in February, I told him I don't think that I can do this another 15 years," Mr. Cardoza said. "I don't think I can hold up."
Mr. Cardoza, a graduate of East Tennessee State University, is handing over control of 200 employees and a $93 million budget. During his tenure, 8,500 companies located or expanded in Georgia, creating an estimated 275,000 jobs and investing approximately $30 billion.
"One of the great advantages we've had as a state is having you guide us," Mr. Barnes told Mr. Cardoza during Thursday's board meeting.
Reach Walter C. Jones at (404) 589-8424.
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