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Board of Directors 2017
Directors                Alternate Directors               Staff


Robert (Bob) Leak, Jr., CEcD

Winston-Salem Business Inc.
1080 West 4th Street
Winston-Salem NC 27101
Bus: (336) 723-8955
Cell: (336) 416-4610

Bob Leak, Jr., President of Winston-Salem Business Inc. (WSBI), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit economic development corporation serving Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, North Carolina. Mr. Leak joined WSBI in May of 1989 as vice president of economic development. He was promoted to President in October of 1991. His responsibilities include marketing and promoting Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, land assemblage and development, staff and organizational supervision. Mr. Leak works closely with local business and elected leaders to recruit new business to the community. Prior to joining Winston-Salem Business Inc., Mr. Leak was a commercial real estate broker with Carolantic Realty in Raleigh, NC, Vice President/Director of Economic Development for First Union National Bank in Raleigh, Executive Director of the Rome/Floyd County Georgia Industrial Development Commission and Assistant Manager of Economic Development for the Greater Greenville, SC Chamber of Commerce.


Samuel (Sam) Powers, CEcD
1st Vice Chairman 

Economic Dev’t Dir.
City of Asheville
PO Box 7148
Asheville, NC 28802
Bus: (828) 259-5433
Cell: (828) 273-1854

Sam Powers is Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville regularly receives accolades as one of the nation’s top cities in the arts and culture, manufacturing, business climate, sustainability, retirement, outdoor recreation opportunities, public education, and quality of life. Asheville’s vibrant economy with a mix of eclectic locally-owned shops, restaurants, craft beverage makers and exciting live entertainment scene, has elevated Asheville to become a national destination.


Raul Peralta
2nd Vice Chairman

Regional VP - Business Development
ECS Carolinas, LLP,
4811 Koger Boulevard
Greensboro, NC 27407   
Bus: (336) 856-7150   


Will Williams, SCCED
Secretary/ Treasurer

President / CEO
Economic Development Partnership
PO Box 1708
Aiken, SC 29802
Bus: (803) 641-3300

A native of Georgetown SC and a graduate of The Citadel with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration.  He has been with the Economic Development Partnership since May of 2010 and has twenty years of economic development experience. As a Project Manager with the SC Department of Commerce he was responsible for more than $950 million in new capital investment that led to 3000 new jobs being created. Since coming to EDP, he has been responsible for more than $1.6 billion in new capital investment that has led to more than 1100 new jobs being created.


He is a member of the SC Economic Developers Association(SCEDA), where he previously served on the board of directors. He is also a member of the Southern Economic Development Council(SEDC) where he currently is the Secretary-Treasurer And a member of the International Economic Development Council(IEDC). In his community he is on the boards of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, Public Education Partners, Aiken Corporation, Aiken Technical College Foundation, The SRS Community Reuse Organization and the Rotary Club of Aiken where he is President Elect.


He has been recognized for his work in economic development with the W. D. Workman Buffalo Hunter Award and the 2017 SCEDA Local Economic Developer of the Year award . He also has the professional designation of Certified Economic Developer by the State of South Carolina.



Charlton (Chuck) Whipple, SCCED
Immediate Past Chairman 

Executive Director
Midlands Enterprise Campus Authority
Post Office Box 2408
Columbia, SC 29202 
Bus: (803) 691-3899 
Cell: (803) 530-8181

Mr. Whipple is Executive Director of the Midlands Enterprise Campus Authority and former Director of Economic Development for Lexington County, South Carolina and has over 35 years of economic development and finance related experience. He is an Alumni of South Carolina State University; the Louisiana State University Graduate School of Banking of the South; University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and the SC Economic Development Advanced Symposium.

He has participated in the following Leadership programs: SC Executive Institute; Leadership SC; Leadership Lexington County and Leadership Columbia. His career focus has been in the Banking, Finance and Economic Development arena; He has been directly involved in more than $7.5 billion in various finance and economic development transactions across South Carolina.

Mr. Whipple is currently an Executive Committee Member and 2nd Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southern Economic Development Council; a 17 southern state, 980-member, economic development trade organization. He is a Past President of South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association, a 600 member economic development trade organization for the State of South Carolina. Additionally, he is a Faculty Member of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. He chairs the Board of Directors for South Carolina State University Advancement Foundation. Mr. Whipple, over his career, has held leadership positions in a number of civic organizations.


Gene Stinson, CEcD, PCED, CAE, HLM

Southern Economic Development Council
311 Nelson St SW
Atlanta, GA 30313
Bus: (404) 523-3030
Fax: (404) 523-0406

Since March 1998 Gene has served as the President of the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC). SEDC is a 
professional association for economic development practitioners and serves 17 states in the American South. In the role of President Gene is responsible for overall operations of the association and for the implementation of the association’s annual program of work. In the twelve years prior to joining SEDC Gene served as the chief staff member of three Chamber of Commerce/Economic Development organizations in Tennessee and Georgia.

Gene is a graduate of The University of Tennessee, the Economic Development Institute, and the US Chamber’s Institute for Organizational Management. In April, 1993 he earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) from the American Economic Development Council. In May, 2002 he also received the designation of Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives. He also received the 
Professional Community &Economic Developer (PCED) certification from the Community Development Council in 2007.He also has been elected to the board of the Georgia Society of Association Executives for 2011 and 2012. In addition, he serves as the Treasurer of the Community Development Council, the national certification body for the Professional Community & Economic Developer certification.