(Photo: Zack Matheny speaking at the DGI board meeting today)

Greensboro City Councilman Zack Matheny, who represents downtown, plans to apply for the top job at Downtown Greensboro Inc. when a search is conducted later this year.

Matheny told Triad City Beat after a meeting of DGI’s board this afternoon that downtown has long been his passion and that he considers this to be a “put up or shut up” moment.

“I’ve always loved downtown,” he said. “I would like to implement some of the conversations we’ve had over the last 10 years.”

Jason Cannon stepped down as the president and CEO of the downtown booster organization two weeks ago, after less than 18 months in the role. The organization had struggled to define its mission and purpose during his tenure, which came after a shakeup initiated by city council.

Matheny, who is the current city council liaison to DGI, has long focused on downtown issues despite representing other portions of the city in District 3. He said his knowledge of the city, economic development and ideas for downtown would make him uniquely qualified for the role, adding that he already has a list of 15 things he would like to see DGI tackle.

Matheny had been critical of Cannon’s leadership. Shortly before Cannon stepped down, former board member Eric Robert leveled accusations that Cannon had lied on his résumé about attaining a masters degree from NC State University.

Matheny told Triad City Beat at the time that he would like an answer from Cannon, but Cannon declined to comment to Triad City Beat. Board Chair Gary Brame spoke on his behalf, denying there had been any wrongdoing on Cannon’s part. It is unclear if the issue, which was publicly raised two weeks before Cannon stepped down, had anything to do with his departure.

Prior to Cannon leaving, DGI recently hired Cyndy Hayworth as its director of operations, a newly created No. 2 position at the small organization. Hayworth is serving as the interim president and was widely rumored to be a strong contender for the seat, but she said this afternoon that she will not be applying for the position.

“If I had the desire to be a CEO, I would have remained at Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina where I was President and CEO for 13 years,” she said. “My strong suit is the day-to-day operations and working with staff.  I appreciate the confidence the DGI board has shown in my ability to lead the organization.”

DGI is currently assembling a search committee that will consist of board members as well as outsiders, Brame said at the beginning of today’s board meeting.

“We’re going to be very careful,” he told the board. “We’re going to be very conscious and make sure we find the right person.”

After the meeting, Brame said it is too early to say what the exact qualifications for a new president and CEO would be, but that he expects it to be similar to the search done in 2013 when Cannon was ultimately hired.

“We’re reviewing [the language],” Brame said. “We want to get everybody on board before we change any of the language. Some people who will be on committee weren’t part of it last time.”

While there isn’t an exact timeline yet, Brame said he is hopeful that the search committee will be in place and that “an outline of what needs to be done” will be ready in the next 45 days.

Matheny, who has served on council since 2007, said he doesn’t see any conflict of interest between serving as DGI’s president and sitting on council, but that he would recuse himself from any necessary votes.

Matheny is currently the president of White Oak Capital, a business he started after leaving Bell Partners in late 2011. He ran unsuccessfully for US Congress last year, losing in the Republican primary.


Look for a full article on DGI’s board meeting and changes at the organization in the Feb. 25 issue of Triad City Beat.

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