Currituck County leaders had decided to move in a new direction with their economic development efforts, and have cut the department from the budget for fiscal year 2022-23 that begins July 1.
That means Economic Director Larry Lombardi is out of a job after five years with the county.
Among the initiatives Lombardi spearheaded in his department of one was the website www.ThinkCurrituck.com, promoting North Carolina’s farthest northeastern county that serves as the main conduit between the Outer Banks and the mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S., along with a wide variety of business-oriented information.
County leaders have not announced specific plans for moving forward with economic development for mainland Currituck and Corolla.
The Daily Advance reported in May that Currituck County Manager Ike McRee said “that this does not mean that the county is no longer in the economic development business.”
McRee said the old economic development model of “trying to hit a home run” by landing a large manufacturing firm is outdated and that new approaches are needed. He also said that if a market is “ripe” than a business will come to the county.
“What this is is an idea that perhaps we can move away from an older model of economic development that seems stale and is not working,” McRee said. “Why not try and focus on our existing businesses to help them expand and grow to employ more of our citizens? We are going to look for new and dynamic ways to encourage economic development.”
The department would have received $307,000 from the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including Lombardi’s annual salary of $76,777.
Lombardi posted a light-hearted departure letter on his LinkedIn page:
I’ll get right to the point…
Wednesday, June 15 will be my last day in the office as Economic Development Director for Currituck County, North Carolina.
At the end of that day, I’ll be handing in my badge and my gun and heading home to watch the sunset over the Sound in flip-flops and shorts.
There may, or may not, be a cold beverage involved.
If you’re wondering why I’m leaving, let’s just say that it wasn’t my decision.
According to the letter I received, “the Currituck County Economic Development Department will not be funded in the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget. Regrettably, you will be laid off from your position as Economic Development Director at the close of business on June 30, 2022.”
So my last “official day” is June 30, but I’ll be done at the office on Wednesday.
Was I ready to start my retirement early? Not really.
But it is what it is.
I believe God is plotting my path. All I can do is have faith and go with the flow. Everything happens for a reason.
To be clear, I’m not looking for sympathy by sharing this news. This isn’t a tragedy. I’ll be fine.
I’ve retired a couple of times before. I’m getting pretty good at it!
It’s going to be a struggle adjusting to sleeping in late, complying with the new Tommy Bahama dress code and playing all those guilt-free rounds of golf, but somehow I’ll manage.
The one thing that I will definitely miss about this job is YOU.
The best part about my job has always been the people.
The relationships I’ve built throughout my career in the region mean everything to me. I consider myself extremely lucky and supremely blessed.
From my days working for the City of Norfolk and the Edenton Chowan Partnership to the last 5 years here in Currituck County, I’ve made a living by meeting and helping people. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I’ll spare you the long, sappy farewell speech.
One, because nobody likes long and sappy farewell speeches.
And two, because I’m not going anywhere.
My lovely wife and I will still live in Corolla. And there’s always a chance that you’ll bump into me on the beach, out to dinner or pushing a grocery cart.
I’m not dead, just retired.
So let’s skip the eulogy and say that I’ll see you around.
Thank you for everything.
If you ever need me, you can still CALL LARRY.
Just make sure that after this Wednesday, you use my mobile number: (301) 237-8951.
As long as it has nothing to do with the Mid-Currituck Bridge, bringing a Taco Bell to the mainland or wastewater, I’m glad to help!