After being the acting chief executive officer at the Kingston Economic Development office for the past 18 months — Donna Gillespie has officially taken on the job permanently. The board of directors unanimously endorsed Gillespie for the C.E.O.’s position — and made it public today.
Here’s Mike Postovit.
A busier than usual day for Donna Gillespie. Beside her normal workload — she was also fielding calls and e-mails of congratulations. Gone is the interim title — now she’s officially the one in charge.
Donna Gillespie/New CEO
“Kingston’s a great product — it is, we need to continue to work with the city, with utilities, with our business community to make Kingston a great place to do business. It is great — and we’re going to make it better.”
Gillespie took over the reigns after the departure of long time CEO Jeff Garrah — she was there throughout the city’s evaluation of KEDCO’s operations.
Judith Pineault/Board of Directors Chair
“Donna is an extraordinary individual — she has led this organization through a period of termoil.
Not only has she brought the community together — she’s succeeded in winning the two biggest foreign direct investments in Canada in that time frame.
Those investments being — Frulact — a Portuguese fruit products manufacturer — as well as the soon to be built Feihe plant. The Chinese owned company will produce baby formula.
“We also need to look at existing businesses in Kingston and how do we help them grow and expand. We’re investing more into supporting our local companies — we’ve benefited from new provincial funding that will allow us to support local companies looking to grow, looking to scale, looking to export — we can take our Kingston product to the world.”
An independent consulting firm mounted a Canada-wide search for a new C.E.O. — it identified 300 potential candidates. That was short listed — and the transplanted Kingstonian won.
Rob Hutchison/CEO Seletion Committee
“We know she works well with senior staff in the city — we know that she’s not afraid to contact people who think they’re not being contacted or heard — she would do that — we know that because we have gone through that. She’s not afraid.
Gillespie has signed a standard 5-year contract with the city. Mike Postovit, CKWS News, Kingston.