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Urban Districts Alliance names executive director

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

After a long search, Urban Districts Alliance has finally found its leader in Springfield native and licensed Realtor Lance T. Brown.

Brown will take over as executive director of the UDA April 15. Interim Director Brian King, who has been "on loan from Ozarks Technical College," will leave UDA to go back to the college May 1, said UDA board member Brian Fogle.

Prior to the hiring of King, Fogle had been acting as convenor for the UDA, which is an umbrella organization whose purpose is to promote economic development within the center city areas of downtown, Walnut Street and Commercial Street.

The process of selecting a permanent director for the group began last summer, Fogle said.

"We had an executive search committee which advertised the position locally and nationally, and two candidates were identified last summer as being highly qualified," Fogle said.

Those two candidates were from outside the Springfield area, but circumstances prohibited either of them from accepting the UDA post. At that time, UDA had already hired Barb Baker as its marketing coordinator. The group began to re-advertise the position and appointed King as interim director.

During this round of selection, three local candidates were identified as finalists. The scope of what UDA was looking for shifted somewhat, Fogle said, because this time the group no longer needed someone who had experience in city planning and development; many of those needs are being taken care of with the implementation of Vision 20/20 programs and the passing of the hotel-motel tax, Fogle said.

"We wanted to see what we could find on a local level; if we could get someone who had a passion for Springfield and downtown, and who could work to keep the momentum going," Fogle said.

Brown, in his particular profession as a Realtor, was optimum for the job, Fogle said, because of his experience in "making the transaction work."

"(Brown) has done that very successfully. He has a great deal of experience in getting two parties together across the table and coming up with something that satisfies them both," Fogle said.

Right now, UDA is concerned with some traffic flow problems downtown, Fogle said. The group is working with the city to convert McDaniel Street to two-way and remove the "tuning forks," in the downtown traffic pattern. Adding downtown to the National Register of Historic Places is also a priority for the group, Fogle said.

Though King has been "just invaluable" during the past four months, Fogle said he is looking forward to working with Brown.

"His enthusiasm is impressive," Fogle said.

A licensed Realtor since age 19, Brown was born in Springfield and is looking forward to this job, even though he wasn't really looking to leave the newly formed Murney Associates, which he joined in July when Patrick Murney formed the company.

"I had a couple of people mention to me that I would be excellent for the position, and I'm always looking for opportunities to grow. Change can really be good," Brown said.

Now 32, Brown had been in real estate for so long that he thought he should try out a few of his other skills, he said.

"I have a great love of Springfield; I'm a big believer in Springfield and this is one place where that passion will really serve well," Brown said.

Brown started out in the real estate business with his father, who has J.T. Brown Realty Co., a commercial real estate company. He joined RE/MAX House of Brokers in 1991 and remained there until July of 1997, when he joined Murney. In the meantime, he earned a bachelor of science degree in communications/public relations from SMSU in 1989.

His experience as a liaison between buyers and sellers should help him in working out problems downtown, Brown said.

"My deal-making skills will help me to get what's best for downtown," Brown said.

Brown and King will work together for about two weeks during the transition.

"He's left some big shoes to fill," Brown said of King.

The married father of two girls, Brown said downtown has always been one of his favorite parts of Springfield.

"Downtown is definitely one-of-a-kind. It has a character all its own," Brown said.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Springfield native Lance Brown is leaving the real estate business to head UDA.[[In-content Ad]]

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