Local economic development group fires CEO

Local economic development group fires CEO

CHAMPAIGN — Mike Kirchhoff is out as chief executive officer of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp.

Kirchhoff, who had been on the job only since last August, was terminated from the position this morning by the corporation’s board of directors.

Laura Frerichs, the outgoing chair of the economic development group, said the organization expected Kirchhoff to increase private-investor support for the group.

But private-investor support did not rise, even though the group was paying Kirchhoff a higher salary — $110,000 a year — than the previous CEO.

Kirchhoff’s contract calls for paying him six months of severance, or $55,000, according to board member Mike Billimack.  

The board did not move to hire an interim CEO but will instead await completion of a strategic plan for the organization, expected by the end of August.

In the meantime, the organization’s incoming chair, Cameron Moore of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, plans to meet with staff three to four hours a week.

A release issued by the organization this morning stated: “While Mike has extensive experience and training in economic development, we were not experiencing the level of growth and progress expected by the board of directors and investors.”

Kirchhoff was not present for this morning’s meeting. Billimack said reports of a personnel review committee were presented to the group’s executive committee last week. Friday was Kirchhoff’s last day in the office, and the job termination took effect today.

Frerichs said the organization determined Kirchhoff “was not the right fit going forward” and, given that the group is trying to stabilize its funding, “a change was needed.”

Today, the board accepted a draft budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that shows revenues of $292,115 and expenses of $350,372 for the group’s core functions.

Kirchhoff was vice president of business retention and recruitment for the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City, Mo., A native of Altamont, he had once worked in economic development positions in Tuscola, Jacksonville and Indianapolis.

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pattsi wrote on June 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm

It might be most useful for all of us if someone would post a delinating explanation as to the purpose of t EDC, CC, and CC Visitors' Bureau. There might possibily be some overlaps that are costing more money than necessary related to results. Further each community, such as Champaign and Urbana, have economic development staff as may be the case with some of the smaller communities. This adds to the potential overlap.

Illini Libertarian wrote on June 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm

The EDC promotes job growth and attraction for major employers.  The Chamber of Commerce is an advocate for local small businesses.  The Convention & Visitor's Bureau promotes local tourism.  They all have very different missions which probably explains why the three groups parted ways a few years ago.

pattsi wrote on June 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Thank you for the descriptions. So what is the purpose of the individuals in economic development roles in each city? Seems as if there are duplications and collaboration might make the mighty dollar go farther.

EdRyan wrote on June 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Hard job to raise money in this economy.

WOW wrote on June 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Ooh, ooh. Hire me!!!!!, then fire me instantly so I can get the 6 months severance package at $55k, then unemployment for 99 weeks of unemployment. Sweeeeet! That severance package is especially generous for someone that didn't even work 45 weeks.