Search for Port Director endsNegotiations have come to a close and Randy Olson officially will be the next Red Wing Port Authority executive director.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
The search is over.
Negotiations have come to a close and Randy Olson officially will be the next Red Wing Port Authority executive director.
Olson will start in his new post next week, Port Authority Board Personnel Committee chair Chris Simonson said.
The Port Board chose Olson as the finalist in early June, and negotiations have been ongoing since.
There were some “hurdles with city policies,” such as the set city pay scale, Simonson said.
“It took some finagling to land the top-tier candidate,” he said, but in the end they were able to come to an agreement.
Olson will begin his new position by getting up to speed on current projects and meet people in the community, Simonson said. The director will also jump on board with the port’s recently minted strategic plan.
“We will be out showcasing our strategic plan, and we want him involved in that,” Simonson said. “It’s a good opportunity to meet people, not only residents but business leaders and a lot of the main players in the community.”
A key piece of the plan is to integrate economic development work and, as the mayor’s blue ribbon panel outlined last year, put the Port Authority at the lead.
“That’s why we took as much time as we did to get Randy,” Simonson said. “We wanted to get the right person. We didn’t want to have to settle.”
Olson has led economic development efforts in the public and private sectors, including work as the former state director of Minnesota’s Small Business Development Centers.
He also has a strong background in manufacturing and technology startups.
The Port Board had discussed “creative, out-of-the-box” employment arrangements such as contracting with Olson, Simonson said, but there were issues with state statute and city policies that made that difficult. In the end the board went the traditional route of hiring Olson for the permanent position.
Salary information was not available at press time.
In their search for a new executive director, Port Board members sifted through dozens of applications, sent out and reviewed candidate questionnaires, conducted face-to-face interviews and asked the top finalists to give a presentation and participate in a community open house.
“It’s been a long process, but at the end of the day we have a really great new executive director and for me, I view him as a game-changer for this community,” Simonson said. “There are a lot of things that potentially can happen over the next few years that can really make the difference for Red Wing.”