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.