Telly Tucker’s last day as Danville’s economic development director is Friday.
The following Monday, he will embark on a new challenge heading the economic development department in Arlington County in northern Virginia.
The change comes with a combination of sadness and anticipation for the 40-year-old Lynchburg native after having served in Danville for five and a half years.
“Mixed emotions is a good way to describe it,” Tucker said of his impending departure from the city. “It’s really difficult to walk away from something you’ve been so passionate about.”
During his time in Danville, Tucker and his team have had 21 economic development announcements — 10 of which were in partnership with Pittsylvania County — that totaled 1,645 new jobs and nearly $450 million in capital investment.
And he’s still working on attracting more projects to the region. Just before talking to the Register & Bee on Monday afternoon, Tucker and Assistant Economic Development Director Corrie Teague Bobe had met with a prospect at the White Mill Building.
“There are so many good things on the horizon I would have liked to have seen through,” he said, hinting at more possible projects in the future. “There’s always the next deal.”
Tucker is not the only one with conflicting feelings about parting with Danville.
“I’m happy for him and the fact that he’s got an opportunity to further his career,” City Manager Ken Larking said. “We’re going to miss having Telly in Danville. Telly came to Danville over five years ago. We’ve had a lot of success during that time. A lot of that success has to do with his efforts.”
When asked for projects he’s most proud of working on to bring to the region, Tucker has a hard time choosing.
“It’s really difficult to pick out a project,” he said. “Each of the projects we worked on was certainly unique.”
But he did mention the recent AKM Transports announcement as noteworthy. Gov. Ralph Northam announced Oct. 25 the Michigan-based delivery van maker would bring 703 jobs to the former IKEA building. The latter just had announced in mid-summer that they would be closing their plant by the end of 2019.
“To fill that space, there’s an intrinsic reward for that type of success that’s hard to replicate,” Tucker said.
He’s also especially proud of getting millions of dollars to George Washington High School for a precision machining program there.
Alexis Ehrhardt, president of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, said Tucker has played a vital role in the Dan River Region.
“Telly has been an incredible asset for this region, understanding what the needs and priorities are and really making an effort to work with key stakeholders to really make a positive impact on the region,” Ehrhardt said.
Tucker worked well with Danville City Council, Pittsylvania County Economic Director Matt Rowe, the county and the region’s employers, she added.
“I really enjoyed a positive relationship and friendship with him,” Ehrhardt said.
Arlington County will be a different world from that of Danville.
In his new position, Tucker will lead a 50-employee department that oversees business investment, real estate development, tourism and marketing for a county that includes the Pentagon, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Amazon’s second headquarters.
Amazon announced its decision to choose Arlington County in fall 2018, where it would create 25,000 jobs over 15 years. Part of Tucker’s job will include integrating that project into the community and helping it through the development process.
Besides the opportunity for working in a much larger market, Tucker said, the job change also will enable Tucker to be closer to family and friends in that area.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.