Rick Weddle said he was recruited for half a dozen jobs in the past year before accepting a position as a top economic development recruiter for the Orlando region.
The Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission announced last week that it has hired Weddle, poaching one of the Triangle's best-known business recruiters and cheerleaders.
Weddle has been the CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, which oversees Research Triangle Park, since 2004. While he said he will miss this region, he's eager to tackle a new opportunity.
He spoke by telephone from his home in Cary. Here are some highlights from that interview:
On why he's leaving:
The Orlando job offered a chance to run a larger organization in a bigger metropolitan area, said Weddle, 59. "It could be a great capstone to a very successful career."
Weddle added that he and his wife Ginger are "empty nesters," with their three children grown, and they have friends in the Orlando area.
And his job before RTP was in Phoenix: "We're warm weather people," he said.
On his rapid departure:
Weddle surprised the RTP foundation board when he told them he was quitting, and he resigned right away. He starts his new job March 14.
"There's never an ideal time to leave anywhere," Weddle said. "But this is probably a better time than any."
An outside consultant hired by the foundation is developing the first update to RTP's master plan since the park opened in 1959. Executive vice president Liz Rooks will take over as interim CEO, and the board is expected to start a search for a permanent replacement eventually.
"They're working on the plan and it didn't make any sense for me to hang around," Weddle said. "The master plan work is underway. We've got a great team at the park. They're in very good hands."
On RTP's future:
RTP is the "top of the food chain" among public-private research hubs worldwide, Weddle said.
This region will continue to fare well as the economy recovers, with three strong university partners and help from other "great partners in economic development" such as Research Triangle Regional Partnership CEO Charles Hayes, Durham Chamber of Commerce CEO Casey Steinbacher and Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce CEO Harvey Schmitt.
On his compensation:
Weddle said he is not taking a pay cut, contrary to a published Orlando media report.
"At this point in my life, it's not about making a whole lot more money," he said. "But I'm not getting hurt" by switching jobs.
In Florida this year, he will receive a base salary of $300,000, incentive pay of $37,500, a $25,000 payment to relocate from North Carolina and a $1,000 per month car allowance. His three-year contract will allow him to earn up to $75,000 in annual bonuses after this year.
At RTP last year, he made $292,469 in base pay, a bonus in December of $44,000 and other compensation such as 401(k) contributions, personal use of a foundation car and more, Weddle said. The prior year, his bonus was much higher, about $140,000, tied to several big tenants buying land in RTP, he added.
Read last week's story on Weddle's new job here.