Williams said he met with Gimenez last week. Privately, Beacon Council leaders said Gimenez was involved in the hiring discussion but did not have final say on the board’s pick.
On Friday, Williams said he would focus on economic growth in three categories: encouraging entrepreneurs, helping existing businesses expand and recruiting companies. The Beacon Council competes with other agencies around the country in luring businesses to Miami-Dade, and Williams said in his Atlanta job he works with the tax-funded incentive offers and relocation consultants that are crucial to the process.
“Larry seems to us as someone who clearly is an economic-development professional,” said Joe Pallot, general counsel for aviation-parts maker HEICO and volunteer chairman of the Beacon Council.
Before coming to the Atlanta chamber in 2011 as vice president of technology industry development, Williams served as an assistant director at Washington State’s Commerce Department between 2006 and 2010. He held a similar position in Washington’s Economic Development department and worked for North Carolina’s Commerce Department between 1993 and 2001. Williams graduated from North Carolina State University and lives with his wife, Pamela, in the Atlanta area.
On Friday, Williams was upbeat on Miami-Dade’s current standing when it comes to economic development. He cited a “healthy pipeline” of companies considering a move to the area, and said the county’s educational offerings give it an advantage.
“You’ve got some great institutions here in higher education,” he said. “That’s really the backbone of economic growth.”