Duvall hired as EDC director
BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Economic Development Commission has a full-time director for the first time in nearly a year.
Michael "Mickey" Duvall, of Franklin, started working in the position Friday, March 2, after two years as Secretary of Commerce for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.
“He is able to hit the ground running,” said Keith Holtsclaw, Mitchell County Commissioner and chair of the EDC board. “He already knows all the players and has the ability to stir the pot.”
Duvall may be new to the position but became familiar with Mitchell County from 2014-16 during his time as Executive Director of the High Country Council of Governments Region D.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work as Director of the Mitchell County Economic Development Commission,” Duvall said. “During my tenure as Executive Director of High Country Council of Governments in Boone, I got to know and work with many of the leaders, businesses and citizens in Mitchell County. It’s great now to be able to come back and center-in on the particular economic and community development needs of Mitchell County.”
Duvall’s more recent stint with the Eastern Band of Cherokee was his second and prior to his time with the High Country Council of Governments he spent time as Pender County Manager, Graham County Manager, a professor of public administration at Western Carolina University and served a term on the Macon County Board of Commissioners. He has also worked in other government positions, as a consultant in had several college-level teaching positions.
He holds a Ph.D. in theology from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Western Carolina.
“I truly believe Mitchell County has the greatest opportunities of all the western counties in the state,” Duvall said. “The potential is there.”
Duvall said his specialties are recruitment and grants, citing an $18 million grant he secured for a new jail in Cherokee, among others.
“Economic development can’t be done sitting in an office,” he said. “It has to be done up and moving around, recruiting new businesses and helping existing businesses.”
County Commissioner and EDC board member Danny Burleson said it is important for Mitchell County's Economic Development Director to deal with local, existing businesses.
“We need to see what they want,” Burleson said. “We need to help them any way we can.”
One of Duvall’s top priorities is improving the county’s internet connectivity, saying it is important to the existing businesses but will also keep potential businesses “out of Atlanta” bring them to Mitchell County.
“I’m taking a shotgun approach,” Duvall said. “I’m going to look at the county’s strategic plan and anything I can grab onto, I’m going to do it. I plan to meet with all business owners and see where they want to be.”
The EDC has not had a full-time director since Laura Verla resigned the position in May 2017. Local resident Oscar Weinmeister worked in the position on an interim basis until early 2018.