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At long last, Todd Tracy is on the right side of the river.

Tracy, 49, a native of southern Illinois, said he’s been seeking a job in Missouri for the last few years and finally got one last week.

He is the new executive director for the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, filling the job that has been vacant since March 18, when David Dews, 59, died.

Dews, the former city manager of

De Soto, started that job Jan. 1, 2018.

Tracey, who lives in Potosi, began work as the EDC director on Sept. 3.

He said he will be paid $75,000 a year. Dews was paid an $80,000 annual salary.

The EDC’s Board of Directors considered 14 candidates and interviewed four people before hiring Tracy, board chairman Dennis Hovis said.

“He had a lot of economic development experience in southern Illinois, probably more than the rest of the candidates,” he said. “His background indicated that he’s a go-getter and is very goal-oriented, and those are positives.”

The EDC office, on Hwy. B west of Hillsboro, has five full-time employees.

Tracy said he worked for several years in the public sector, but widespread budget cuts in Illinois during the early 2000s left him on the outside looking in.

After receiving a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Tracy started his career with the Southeastern Regional Planning and Development Commission, which covers five counties, and was named its economic development director.

He then directed small business development centers at Southeastern Illinois College and Kaskaskia College.

At the latter, he started a successful international trade center, the seventh in the state.

“However, because of the state budget cuts from 2003 to 2009, I started my own consulting company (Trusted Biz Solutions) that specialized in economic development and small business consulting,” Tracy said.

His company also was part of inAlliance, which provided consulting services to local governments in historic preservation, community revitalization and economic restructuring based in Springfield, Ill.

Along the way, Tracy said he also owned a picture-framing business.

“I enjoyed my time in the private sector, but my training and my interest lies in economic development,” he said. “I didn’t see working in Illinois again, so I started looking at Missouri. Gov. Parson’s stand on economic development and small business growth closely aligned with my values.”

Tracy, who learned about the EDC position through an advertisement, said he doesn’t know much about Jefferson County, but after his first week on the job, he likes what he sees.

“I think there is a lot that can be done here,” he said. “All the people I’ve met so far have been very nice.”

Tracy said he plans to expand the EDC’s loans and bond programs.

“We’ve got a lot of options here that can help businesses grow,” he said. “I want to make sure that we’re getting money and assistance in the hands of the people who really need them.”

The EDC, a nonprofit agency, works to attract new businesses to the county and help existing ones expand. It also administers the Community Development Block Grant program in the county, and it includes the Industrial Development Authority, which issues industrial revenue bonds.

Much of the EDC’s budget comes from the dues the county and member cities pay. Other sources of revenue come from fees to administer grants for the federal Housing and Urban Development program, Small Business Administration loans and interest from its own revolving loan program for small business.

Tracy said he enjoys hunting, fishing and motorcycling.

“If it’s done outside, it’s pretty much my hobby,” he said.

Tracy has a 13-year-old son.