Miami-Dade’s top economic development executive is stepping down

Larry Williams.
Larry Williams.

Larry Williams, the president and CEO of the Beacon Council, will step down after three years as Miami-Dade County’s top economic development executive.

He has accepted a new role as president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia, which is one of the nation’s largest statewide technology trade associations.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Williams, whose wife is from Atlanta and has family there. “I love Miami, I love the people here. … But my contract was up for renewal so it was a good opportunity for me to take advantage of this opportunity.”

He had also served on the board of the technology association.

A national search will be held to hire a replacement for the organization, launched in 1985 as the county’s economic development agency. It is jointly funded by tax dollars and private money.

The search for a new executive will be led by incoming Beacon Council chair Jaret Davis of law firm Greenberg Traurig. Williams will be assisting with the transition and will stay with the organization through October. An interim president is expected to be named.

Joe Pallot, who chaired the Beacon Council when Williams was hired, called him “the right person at the right time.”

“He built the staff very well,” said Pallot, who is general counsel of Heico Corporation. “He built relationships in the community, both public and private. He built trust in the Beacon Council. I think we need to continue on the trajectory that he put the organization on.”

Under Williams’ tenure, the Beacon Council helped attract $687 million in new investment and 119 companies creating 4,500-plus jobs through company locations or expansions, according to an announcement.

“We put together a comprehensive economic development strategy,” said Williams, who sports a Southern accent but speaks fluent Spanish. “It’s not just attracting new companies. How do we encourage the innovation economy and grow companies that are already here? I think we’ve changed the landscape for entrepreneurs and technology companies in Miami-Dade County.”

Williams also played a key role in improving relations with Miami-Dade County, which had grown tense under previous Beacon Council leader Frank Nero, who was ousted in part because of his opposition to destination gaming.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez praised Williams in a statement.

“Miami-Dade County is a better place to live, work and play because of Larry’s tireless work to fuel our economic development,” Gimenez wrote. “Among his many accomplishments, Larry has brought new job-generating investments to our community, and he has helped existing businesses grow.”

In a message to board members, Beacon Council chair Ernie Diaz said that Williams “raised the bar beyond our expectations and has set the Miami-Dade Beacon Council on a new trajectory.”

A North Carolina native, Williams previously served as director of economic development and international trade at the Washington State Department of Commerce, and as vice president of technology development at the Metro Atlanta Chamber.