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Board of Directors 2018
Directors                Alternate Directors               Staff


Samuel (Sam) Powers, CEcD

Economic Development Director
City of Asheville

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
1st Vice Chairman 

Senior VP - Business Development
ECS Southeast, LLP


Will Williams, SCCED
2nd Vice Chairman

President / CEO
Economic Development Partnership

 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.


Bob Helton
Secretary/ Treasurer

Economic Development Manager
Morehead Rowan County Economic Development

 Bob is a graduate from Morehead State University, 1975. He resides in Georgetown, Ky and has been in the Lexington, Ky area for the past 30 years other than a couple of years in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Bob has been involved with marketing, sales, and public relations within the construction industry for 30 plus years. A good deal of Bob’s time has also been with the mining industry, both aggregates and coal operations in Kentucky and North Carolina. He has been with R J Corman Railroad Group for the past seven (7) years, five years as their Construction Company’s Business Manager and this past 2 years as Economic Development Manager working within the Public Relations Department. Bob’s efforts include both rail industry development and governmental relations in this position.

Bob is involved with several industry associations and business groups including, Kentuckians for Better Transportation – Rail Committee Chair, American Railroad Maintenance Engineers – Past Ballast Subcommittee Chair, State Economic Associations in the states of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi; as well as a long standing member of the Southern Economic Development Council. He is also active with American Short Line Railroad Association – Public Policy committee, along with state level rail associations in the states of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi with a focus on rail related industry development and public policy.



Robert (Bob) Leak, Jr., CEcD
Immediate Past Chairman 

Winston-Salem Business Inc.

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.


Gene Stinson, CEcD, PCED, CAE, HLM

Southern Economic Development Council
311 Nelson St SW
Atlanta, GA 30313

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.