In Danville, Telly Tucker saw opportunities and great challenges while other folks might have just seen remnants of the past and ruins of the city’s manufacturing greatness. That, in one sentence, is what made Danville’s now-former director of economic development such a success and an asset to the greater Dan River Region.
Tucker announced back in December he would be leaving the post he had assumed just over five years ago, heading north up U.S. 29 to Arlington County to lead its economic development department. His last day on the job in Danville was Jan. 10.
To say that Tucker will be missed in Danville would be an understatement. During his time here, he and his department of four full-time employees and a consultant had 21 economic development announcements, 10 of which were in partnership with Pittsylvania County. Those 21 announcements amounted to almost $450 million in capital investments and 1,645 new jobs. In Arlington, he’ll oversee a 50 person staff that oversees business investment, real estate development, tourism and marketing in the locality that’s home to the Pentagon and that just landed Amazon’s HQ2 project, one of the most sought-after development prizes in the nation last year.
Tucker’s first job years ago was a public school teacher before he became the assistant director of economic development for James City County in Tidwater Virginia. He then worked as an enterprise zone program administrator with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, before he returned to his home town of Lynchburg to work as an economic development specialist.
He’s a graduate of James Madison University and also studied music at Morgan State University in Baltimore. According to Virginia Business magazine, it was while he was at Maryland’s largest HBCU — Historically Black College and University — that he gave a piano recital for then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with Virginia Business back in December, Tucker expressed excitement about his new post but was more than a little wistful upon leaving Danville. “It was a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “My heart will always be in Danville for the opportunity they gave me. It’s bittersweet in a sense, because I’ll miss the relationships I’ve built in Danville, but I’m very much loocking to working in Arlington.”
Here in Danville and Pittsylvania County, political, business and civic leaders were quick to sing Tucker’s praises. Alexis Ehrhardt, president of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, spoke for many when she spoke with the Register & Bee earlier this month: “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.”
Danville was lucky to have had a person of Tucker’s stature and abilities with us for as long as he was. Whoever City Manager Ken Larking selects as his successor will have a mighty large reputation to live up to.
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this editorial incorrectly identified Alexis Ehrhardt, president of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. We regret the error.