James Leftwich, former director of the Dayton Development Coalition, will step down Aug. 1 as director of the Ohio Department of Development and become an informal economic development adviser to Gov. John Kasich, Leftwich and a top aide to the governor announced Tuesday.
Chris Schmenk, currently general counsel in the state development department, will take over as director of the department as the state’s job creation efforts are transitioned to JobsOhio, the private, not-for-profit corporation whose board of directors held its first meeting Tuesday.
Leftwich, 46, whose state salary is $127,400 a year, said he plans to return to the private sector but declined to provide specific plans while still working for the state. He said that he anticipated that his tenure as director would be short when he took over in March.
Kasich tapped him for the director’s job after Democrats raised questions about the constitutionality of having Mark Kvamme, Kasich’s top jobs’ adviser, in the director’s job because Kvamme was not an Ohio resident.
“I came into this with my eyes open,” said Leftwich, who commuted to Columbus from the Dayton area and plans to continue living in the Dayton area.
Scott Milburn, Kasich’s spokesman, said Leftwich not only ran the department but helped “crystallize the vision for JobsOhio,” which is a statewide version of the Dayton Development Coalition.
Kasich is “personally, immensely grateful” to Leftwich for his service, said Milburn.
Milburn said the Kasich administration did not expect to get Leftwich as director for as long as he is to serve.
“We kind of milked everything we could,” said Milburn.
Going forward, Leftwich will be particularly important in advising Kasich on aerospace economic development opportunities, said Milburn.
“I’m very much vested in the success here of JobsOhio,” said Leftwich. He said he has offered to continue in an adviser’s role with JobsOhio, particularly in the aerospace area.
Kasich on Monday announced the appointment of eight members to the JobsOhio board of directors, with a ninth appointment to be made later. No appointees were from the Dayton area.
Leftwich said, however, that the Dayton area would be well served by JobsOhio.
“I think the whole state is going to be well served by JobsOhio,” Leftwich said.
Milburn said that Schmenk is the natural person to take over as director as the transition is made to JobsOhio, with the development department no longer playing the out front role in job development efforts.Tweet