David Hooks has been hired as the new executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority, filling a position that had been vacant for more than three years.
The hiring was announced at Wednesday’s Gadsden City Council meeting.
“I look forward to this opportunity and look forward to moving back home,” Hooks said.
Hooks is an Attalla native who served on the Attalla City Council before leaving in 1978 to join the campaign of Gov. Fob James.
“I’ve done multiple things, and most of those things are directly involved with economic development and industrial recruitment,” he said.
Hooks served as director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs from 1993 to 1995 under Gov. Jim Folsom Jr.
ADECA is a state agency that oversees an annual budget of more than $220 million and manages all state and federal economic development programs.
He also was an industrial development specialist, senior customer service manager and Senior Manager of Industrial Recruitment for the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1997 to 2002.
Hooks worked as the Director of Capital Structure and Investment for the Jefferson County Commission from 2010 to 2012, which came at a time when the county was working to recover from bankruptcy.
Hooks also worked in banking in the private sector.
“I’ve done public finance in the banking sector, but again, most of my public finance background was around doing municipal bills and transactions with industrial clients,” he said.
For the last six years, Hooks has been the Director of Innovation at The Edge of Chaos, a collaborative established by the School of Public Health at UAB to develop creative products, programs, processes and policies for the university.
Hooks is the first executive director for the IDA since longtime director Mike McCain died in late Sept. 2015.
“I think the city of Gadsden and Etowah County have done a great job over the last 12 years really building the foundation of moving this community forward,” Hooks said.
Hooks said he looked at a list of the mayors in the county and has a working relationship with nearly all of them.
“I think with the exception of Walnut Grove, I think I know every single mayor in the county personally and have worked with them over the last 30 years,” he said.
Larry Means, mayor of Attalla and president of the IDA, introduced Hooks at the meeting.
Means also expressed appreciation for Bill Greene, who has been leading the IDA since McCain’s death.
Greene will continue to serve as assistant director.
Means spoke to the City Council last October about some of the concerns the IDA had about recent moves by the Etowah County Commission, including hiring an economic development director and establishing the Etowah County Industrial Development Authority, which will be doing business as the Etowah Economic Alliance.
He reiterated some of those concerns Tuesday, saying that such a situation creates confusion for any business that wants to locate in the county because they would be unsure which organization to contact.
“They have the right and privilege to do as they want to, but that just made me … more aggressive about getting us an executive director,” Means said.
“David brings a wealth of experience back with him, and we can’t wait for him to get started,” Means said in a press release.
“We know that he’s got the utmost qualifications,” said Frankie Davis, Gadsden’s director of governmental affairs and economic development.
“I am looking forward to working with David to build on our industrial development momentum,” Mayor Sherman Guyton said in a press release. “Gadsden is in a great position for growth in good jobs and new industries. He will take our recruitment of innovative companies and new ventures to the next level.”