Stacy Woodhouse, director of the Warren County Economic Development Commission (EDC), resigned on June 23 from the position he’s held since February 2018.
Woodhouse’s resignation came just a few hours before the Warren County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted to adopt a resolution amending the bylaws regarding how the EDC works with the BOC.
The most significant change would require the economic developer to report directly to County Manager Vincent Jones.
According to Carl Lynch, chair of the EDC board for the past three years, neither he nor Woodhouse were contacted to discuss this change in advance of the vote.
BOC Chairman Tare “T” Davis said he was not aware that Woodhouse or anyone on the EDC board had not been contacted prior to adoption of the resolution. He also did not think Woodhouse would resign over this change.
“I was pleased with his work,” Davis said. “His resignation completely blindsided me.” Davis added that he would welcome Woodhouse back if he decides to rescind his resignation.
Commissioner and EDC liaison Victor Hunt said the decision to make the change was motivated by a desire for greater transparency and inclusiveness. He said he would have preferred that Woodhouse shared more details on a weekly or monthly basis with the county manager instead of coming to him after plans for a project had all been worked out.
Hunt also said he did not contact Woodhouse or a member of the EDC board to discuss the board’s intentions to change the bylaws, believing that to be the responsibility of the county manager.
He, too, did not expect Woodhouse to resign. “I’m as confused and shocked as anyone,” Hunt said. “I was pleased with his work and had nothing against him. We weren’t trying to tie his hands or change his job description. My only reservation was that he was doing too much.”
For his part, County Manager Vincent Jones said, “I appreciate Mr. Woodhouse’s enthusiastic efforts and accomplishments in economic development on behalf of Warren County and wish him well in his future endeavors.” He declined to comment on why Woodhouse was not contacted before the decision was made to amend the bylaws.
The county commissioners unanimously voted to hire Woodhouse in 2018 as interim director on a contract basis for a period of six months, at annual salary of $55,000 annually. Woodhouse soon proved worthy of the post and was hired as a county employee.
His letter of resignation came nearly two years later, during which time he reportedly did a great deal for Warren County.
“He will be sorely missed,” said Warrenton Town Administrator Robert Davie, who brought him to Warrenton.
Davie said Woodhouse worked very closely with the town and county on numerous important projects.
“His heart was really in it,” said Davie, who hopes Woodhouse will agree to work on a success-fee basis on projects currently in progress.
“He is so good at the high levels of finance and real estate,” Davie said. “That’s what it takes to bring in the money we need for the county. I’ve seen him do it.”
For his part, Woodhouse said he’s extremely proud of what the EDC office has accomplished over the past two years.
“We’ve brought new manufacturing and retail to Warren County, several affordable housing projects are in the works, and helped over a hundred small businesses,” Woodhouse said. “We also have a boutique hotel, with medical, retail, and senior living space coming to Lake Gaston. At $100 million it’s the largest economic development project in the history of Warren County.”
Woodhouse also points to the EDC’s efforts to bring a hotel to the Wise interchange. In addition, he has helped secure more than $100,000 in grants to help farmers, built recreational trails, worked with the public school system and more during his tenure.
“Serving the people of Warren County has been an honor and a pleasure and I will continue to do so,” Woodhouse said. “I would like to thank my coworker Peggy Richardson for her tireless support of me and her service to the people of Warren County both during my tenure and for the past 20-plus years. If I have left one impression on the people of Warren County I hope it is that I love them and I support them.”
He added that the work he did was a service to the community. “I would have been happy to do this for the rest of my life,” he said, adding that he offered to continue working with the county and town of Warrenton in a consulting capacity. “Now I’ll be able to continue the work I started as a private citizen.”
Woodhouse earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from American University in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a property analyst for Jamestown Properties and as director of acquisitions for Hand Properties, Inc., both in Atlanta, and as a development officer for WRS Realty in Charleston, S.C. He left WRS in 2014 to start Woodhouse Real Estate.
Woodhouse and his wife founded Sow Edible Permaculture Farm & Nursery (sowedible.com) in Afton-Elberon. He also designed and built an off-grid home where he and his family live.