Loudon County Economic Development Agency Board of Directors
named Jack Qualls as the office’s new director last week
following the retirement of longtime Executive Director Pat
a community transportation planner with the Tennessee
Department of Transportation, will take over the full-time
position July 11 at a base salary of $84,000. His wage will
increase to $88,000 at six months before going to $90,000
after a year on the job.
“Initially it was $82,000 to start and top out at
$88,000 with the move,” Loudon County Mayor Rollen
“Buddy” Bradshaw said. “That was over an 18-month
period, and so I spoke to Mr. Qualls this morning. He is
very ultra confident that his family will relocate here
into Loudon County. I think the timespan’s going to be a
little bit shorter, but still we’ll get something hashed
Qualls will have one year to move to the county. The
board approved a $1,500 allocation for Qualls’ moving
expenses. He currently lives in Powell.
The board also considered awarding Qualls a three-year
contract as per his request, but the motion failed.
Board member Harold Duff cast the lone “yes” vote.
The failed vote on the contract was not a “deal killer,”
Board member John Evans opposed contract discussions,
noting that contracts can restrict employees from
earning more for improved performance.
“That probably comes from my working in the private
sector my entire life,” Evans said. “I think there are
folks in the public sector that sometimes expect a
contract, but I think job performance and someone’s
ability will keep them in a job. So, I’m not a proponent
Qualls’ experience in the public sector helped make him
the top candidate, according to board members.
“We tend to look at transportation and economic
development as two separate things when really they’re
not — they’re not at all,” Amber Scott, Lenoir City
administrator and EDA board member, said. “They go hand
in hand, and so Jack seemed to know how those two play
in. I say it all the time: If you don’t know how to put
infrastructure in and you don’t have infrastructure in
your county, in your community, then you cannot — it’s
impossible to have economic development. Industries will
not locate here.
“Manufacturing companies will not locate here if you’ve
not got transportation infrastructure,” she added. “You
can’t get commercial development (or) residential
development. It’s impossible to do that without the
transportation infrastructure, and that’s something that
he’s very familiar with, as well as planning.”
Qualls was one of two final candidates the board
considered last month. The other candidate, Jason
Lambert, serves as dean of workforce innovations and
economic development for Southwestern Community College
in Sylvia, N.C.
“If you look at all (his) experience with TDOT, and
transportation is such a huge aspect of this job,”
Bradshaw said about Qualls. “I think Jack was — of all
the candidates, he probably had the most transportation
experience. He’s got great connections throughout the
state, including inside Nashville, and so just through
this process he just continued popping up and (we had a)
great interview with him. (He was) just a logical
Phillips will remain in place on a part-time basis
through the end of the year, Bradshaw said. The former
director is limited to working 960 hours in a 12-month
period as per the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement
Qualls said he did not want to comment on the new
position until he completed his duties with TDOT.