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Jax Daily Record Friday, Apr. 26, 201312:00 PM EST

CEO search down to 8 for Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority

by: David Chapman

The search for the first CEO of the Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority has been narrowed to eight candidates, according to a list provided Friday by the City's Office of Economic Development.

The finalists, along with their budgets and staff levels, where provided, are:

• Thaddeus Cohen, former assistant city manager and community redevelopment executive director, City of Pensacola. His budget was previously $217 million, with a staff of 860.

• Christopher DiGeorge, founder and managing partner for DiGeorge Atlantic in Philadelphia.

• James Edwards, executive director, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Charleston, W.V. His budget is $700,000 with a staff of three.

• Kevin Hanna, director of real estate development for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority in New Orleans. His budget is $850,000 with a staff of eight.

• Michael Maher, founding director of Charleston Civic Design Center. His budget is $200,000 with a staff of one.

• James Schimmer, director of the department of economic development for Franklin County in Columbus, Ohio. His budget is $14 million with a staff of 23.

• Andi Udris, president of the Cincinnati Restaurant Group in Cincinnati.

• Aundra Wallace, executive director of the Detroit Land Bank Authority in Detroit. His budget is $1.5 million with a staff of 10.

As the Daily Record reported, at least 61 people submitted their resume or letter of interest, based on a list that was current as of April 19.

Several applicants were from Northeast Florida, but none made the cut.

Todd Jorgenson, managing director and principal of Jorgenson Consulting, has been conducting the search and last week said the search is "at the back end" of the process and he hoped to have the list submitted by the end of this week.

Authority Chair Donald Harris said Friday that the interview process with candidates will begin a "full-court press" beginning Monday morning. The candidates will talk to members of the authority's CEO search committee in one-on-one conversations over the phone, with members using a grading questionnaire to evaluate each candidate, he said.

The candidates will be then be evaluated using those grades, with the list being narrowed until two finalists are chosen.

Those candidates will then be brought to a special authority meeting for interviews, Harris said.

No date has been set for that meeting, he said.

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