Shannon Ogletree was named the Economic Director of the Economic Development Office after a 3-2 vote by the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners to approve his contract.
Ogletree steps into the position carrying majority support of the commission amidst reports of more than 400 jobs to come in the East Milton Industrial Park.
Commissioners Jim Melvin and Jim Williamson objected to the outright approval, stating their concerns about the process. The commissioners said they expected the board to have more input in the final hiring decision.
County Administrator Hunter Walker oversaw the hiring process, since the county started accepting applications in January. The county paid $15,520 to an outside firm, KiJobGrowth, to handle the initial applicant screening. They received 48 applicants for the position.
Walker held phone interviews with seven of the most promising applicants last month. Three of the seven were local and four were from out of state. State and county statues give the hiring power to the administrator.
After having the phone interviews, Walker said Ogletree was the clear choice for the position and scrapped his original plan to hold another round of interviews.
County residents Alan Issacson and Wallis Mahute expressed their disapproval with the director's previous performance. They made allegations of misconduct regarding the falsification of documents while Ogletree was working with TEAM.
"We should not continue having people turning a blind eye," Issacson said. "Let the process step into the light and I will begin to trust again."
TEAM was investigated by FBI last year after records reflected a falsification of the organization's minutes. The economic director at the time, Cindy Anderson, was questioned for giving another board member's company for a $170,000 grant.
Ogletree has been serving as interim Economic Director since Anderson resigned in April 2012.
The county absorbed the responsibilities of TEAM, forming the EDO and creating more oversight into the process. TEAM had been responsible for economic development as an outside entity for around 20 years prior to the county dissolving the organization.
Commissioners Lane Lynchard, Bob Cole and Don Salter voted in support of Ogletree's obtaining a permanent position with the county.
Lynchard said the current hiring process was enacted to prevent nepotism and favoritism.
"We had 450 jobs announced in Santa Rosa County while Ogletree was interim director," Lynchard said. "This is just the tip of the iceberg, I believe."
Ogletree received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration from the University of West Florida. His resume says he has 10 years county-level economic development experience with six major projects in work.
He was involved with TEAM working as a researcher from 2003-2007. He then started his role as an industry recruiter from 2007-2009. He accepted a position as associate director of the organization in 2009.
Prior to economic development with TEAM and the county, Ogletree was working with the UWF Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development for three years.