By Janet Jacobs
A unanimous vote by the Red Oak City Council Monday made it official — Lee McCleary, economic development director for both the City of Corsicana and Navarro County is leaving.
McCleary, 60, has been with the City and County for seven years. He’s moving to the southern part of Tarrant County to be closer to his children and grandchildren, he said Tuesday.
“This is absolutely family-oriented,” he said. “We’ve been praying for a long time about where the Lord really wants us to be. And even though our kids aren’t that far away, it’s still challenging for us to get together.”
Moving to Red Oak will put McCleary and his wife, Hanna, 20 minutes away from the grandkids, instead of an hour and a half.
“Corsicana and Navarro County are wonderful, and it’s truly a gut-wrenching decision, but when it comes down to family or anything else, family wins,” McCleary said.
In the last seven years, the county has seen an expansion by Guardian, Russell Stover and Corsicana Bedding, the opening of the Northrup Grumman offices, and Cinergy Cinemas, Pactiv is currently undergoing an expansion, a water park is scheduled to open next summer, and a variety of new restaurants have opened, including Applebee’s, Arby’s, Taco Casa, a second Whataburger, and now a Schlotzky’s.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with him,” said Mayor Chuck McClanahan in a press release Tuesday morning. “I have been very impressed with his work ethic and dedication. Lee makes numerous contacts regularly with many companies in an attempt to promote Corsicana. He has identified opportunities and pursued them with enthusiasm. His presentations to prospective businesses are professional and well delivered. His talents will be hard to replace. The search is underway for a replacement with similar skills, training and qualifications.”
The decision to hire McCleary in Red Oak was made by City Manager Todd Fuller, who knew McCleary when they were both working in Ellis County. Nonetheless, the decision was seconded by the city council on Monday night.
“We’ve all been very pleased to be able to bring him up here,” Fuller said. “It’s obvious with what he’s done in Corsicana that it would be foolish of us not to take advantage.”
Fuller has been the city manager and economic development director in Red Oak for the last 13 years, but the growth in that city inspired the council to create a separate position for economic development.
“We’ve been thinking about this for a good while,” Fuller said. “This just seemed like a god opportunity.”
Particularly attractive to the Red Oak representatives was McCleary’s experience in getting industries to Ennis and Navarro County, Fuller said.
“I think he’ll be very successful here, as he has been in his other positions,” Fuller said. “I’m very excited to get him. I’m sorry for you, but I can’t help it.”
McCleary’s last day will be at the end of May.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com