This post has been updated with reaction from SEANC, the State Employees Association of North Carolina.
The former head of North Carolina’s public-private economic development group received a $30,000 “stay” bonus in January, an enticement that only kept him at the new endeavor for three months.
Richard Lindenmuth, a Raleigh business executive, was selected in January 2014 to get the largely publicly-funded Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina off the ground. He had specialized in helping troubled companies but had no prior economic development experience.
The public-private partnership, which received $17.5 million in state funding last year, has been a central piece of Gov. Pat McCrory’s economic development strategy, after state lawmakers granted the McCrory administration’s request to move Commerce’s job recruitment, tourism and marketing arms out of state government. The privatization of the state’s job recruitment strategies, which proponents say allow for more aggressive and effective job recruitment, has encountered accountability issues in some states that have taken similar approaches.
Here in North Carolina, Lindenmuth was in the interim chief executive officer role for the partnership until December 2014, when McCrory administration officials announced that an experienced economic developer from Missouri, Christopher Chung, would take over the organization.
Lindenmuth would be staying on a consultant, McCrory administration officials said at the time.
Records (scroll down to view) recently obtained by N.C. Policy Watch through a public records request show that the public-private partnership also opted to pay Lindenmuth a $30,000 “stay” bonus to continue as a contractor while also receiving the same pay he got as an interim director – $10,000 a month, or $120,000 a year.
The stay bonus didn’t manage to keep Lindenmuth at the organization for very long.
He submitted a resignation that was effective as of March 31, less than three months after he received the $30,000 stay bonus, according to Mary Wilson, a spokeswoman for the agency.
When asked for the date when Lindenmuth submitted his resignation for the contract position, Wilson responded on Thursday that the public-private partnership had no comment.
N.C. Policy Watch requested a copy of his resignation letter, which was not immediately released.
In all, Lindenmuth received $71,770 for his three months of consulting work in 2015 – the $30,000 stay bonus, $35,538 in regular pay and $6,231 for accrued time off.
Lindenmuth declined to comment for this article, and hung up on an N.C. Policy Watch reporter who reached him by telephone this week.