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Board of Directors
Directors                Alternate Directors               Staff


Michael Philpot, CEcD 

Executive Director
West Tennessee Industrial Association
26 Conrad Drive
Jackson TN 38305 
Bus: (731) 668-4300
Fax: (731) 668-7554

Michael M. Philpot, CEcD, is the Executive Director for the West Tennessee Industrial Association (WTIA), and coordinates all association functions.  By working with local electric power distributors, chambers of commerce, industrial development boards, the State of Tennessee’s Economic and Community Development office and TVA, efforts to assist and develop local industry and finding new investments for the region is the mission of WTIA.  WTIA serves the twenty-one county region of West Tennessee assisting them in community preparedness, existing industry support as well as new industrial, retail and commercial development. He has been employed in the field of economic development for over twenty-three years.


Chuck Whipple 
1st Vice Chairman 

Lexington County Economic Development
212 South Lake Drive, Suite 603
Lexington, SC 29072
Bus: (803) 785-8147

Mr. Whipple is 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 1st 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. 



Robert (Bob) Leak, Jr 
2nd Vice Chairman

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

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. Mr. Leak works closely with local business and elected leaders to recruit new business to the community. Bob earned his Certified Economic and Community Developer (CeCD) designation in October of 1990. He is a member and past President of the North Carolina Economic Developers Association (NCEDA), member and board member of the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC), and a member and past board member of the International Economic Development Council (IDRC). Mr. Leak served on the North Carolina Economic Development Board in 2000-2001, appointed to that position by Governor Jim Hunt. His is an adjunct professor of real estate in the Wake Forest University Schools of Business. Mr. Leak was named the Economic Development Practitioner of the year by the North Carolina Economic Developers Association in 2006. Mr. Leak holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a MBA from Wake Forest University and is a graduate of the Basic Economic Development Course in Chapel Hill and the Economic Development Institute in Norman, Oklahoma



Samuel (Sam) Powers, CEcD

Director of Community and Economic Development
City of Asheville
PO Box 7148
Asheville, NC 28802
Bus: (828) 259-5433

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.


Hal Johnson, SCCED 
Immediate Past Chairman 

Chief Development Officer
NAI Earle Furman
101 East Washington Street, Suite 400
Greenville SC 29601 
Bus:(864) 678-5992  

Prior to joining NAI Earle Furman, Hal served six years with the Orangeburg County Development Commission as its Executive Director and three years with the South Carolina Department of Commerce as a Project Manager before becoming President and CEO of the Upstate SC Alliance in 2005. He served in this capacity for almost nine years and was named the 2013 Economic Developer of the Year by the South Carolina Economic Development Association. Hal is currently serving as the chairman of the Southern Economic Development Council. As Chief Development Officer, Hal works in conjunction with the NAI Earle Furman leadership team to strategically direct business development plans and design and implement processes to support the growth and success of their individual clients. He also works directly with clients and business partners to ensure the success of their projects and determine evolving market needs.



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.