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WREDC intern becomes its interim manager

Kayla Strayer/Daily Globe Chris Witzel will be the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. interim manager of economic development and membership services.

WORTHINGTON -- Chris Witzel will be the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. interim manager of economic development and membership services effective Monday through Jan 1, 2013.

Witzel, a 22-year-old Minnesota State University senior, has been interning under current WREDC manager Glenn Thuringer for the last five months. Thuringer is leaving to become the president of Bioverse, a water treatment company he helped relocate to Worthington.

Witzel said he will be responsible for meeting with businesses to help them expand, refinance or relate to the public sector.

"We're enthusiastic that Chris is willing to take this on," said Jeff Williamson, the WREDC board chairman. "We think it's a great opportunity for him to further his education and get some real hands-on experience."

The WREDC board will look for a permanent replacement for Thuringer during the three-month interim period, and Witzel is welcome to apply if he chooses. He will graduate in December with a bachelor's degree in urban and regional studies.

Witzel said his degree is more aimed at city management, so he will bring a fresh perspective to the position.

With change always comes concerns, Witzel said, adding the transition will be easier with supportive mentors nearby.

"The board decided to put Glenn on a retainer for those three months, so if I need help I can call him," Witzel said. "I'll meet with him once a week and with the board frequently."

"It worked out perfect to have Glenn stay in the community and be able to mentor Chris longer," Williamson said. "This gives us time to do our search thoroughly."

Witzel lives in Nobles County and said school won't be a problem, as he only has one class left until graduation.

Williamson said the board, which includes representation from the city of Worthington, Nobles County and Worthington Public Utilities, will be evaluating its goals and is optimistic about working together to find the permanent manager.

He said the candidate must believe in what they are selling.

"It's important to have somebody that believes in the community, education and businesses that are here," Williamson said. "We're going to find the right person during this interim process."

As for future projects, Witzel said the main focus is the new Biotechnology Advancement Center and improving the housing situation within the city.

"We will be trying to structure a deal to get some of the housing pressure taken off the whole community with the building of campus housing," Witzel said.

Thuringer said Witzel's internship experience has been invaluable for meeting contacts and witnessing discussions and conferences firsthand. He expects the transition to go smoothly.

"I'm looking forward to the unexpected opportunity," Witzel said. "It will be nice to get some experience."

Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.