Lambert Announces Retirement

May 16, 2022

Director Lambert Retires, Grimsley Offers Leadership

      At the May 10, 2022 Hardee County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) board meeting, Director Bill Lambert announced his retirement. Chairman Denise Grimsley offered her commitment for consideration by the Board to assume the position of Executive Directive.

         Bill Lambert has served as the Executive Director of Hardee County for 14 years. During his tenure, firms supported by the EDC/IDA generated direct, indirect and induced revenues for area businesses of $1.5 billion. Most notable projects under Lambert’s management include Pacer Group expansion, Florikan, Innovar, Hardee Fresh, Commerce Park expansion to include 20 new shovel ready lots and many infrastructure improvements.

         Following Lambert’s announcement of retirement, the IDA board voted unanimously to hire Denise Grimsley as Executive Director with a three year contract.  Of the IDA board, Lee Mikell, Barney Cherry and Calli Ward spoke of the leadership and expertise Grimsley would bring to the organization. Commissioner Flores, Commissioner Wyatt, County Manager Lawrence Mcnaul, and City of Wauchula Manager Terry Atchley took the opportunity during public comment to compliment Bill Lambert on his achievements and give their support for the motion to hire Grimsley as Executive Director with a three-year contract.

         “…I believe that Hardee County is well positioned to foster economic activity and I would be honored to lead this organization and create a long-term succession plan that creates and sustains a vibrant community,” Grimsley wrote.         

         Chairman Grimsley acknowledged Hardee County’s opportunity, having back-to-back State Senators. “Facelifts for the Hardee County Civic Center, Zolfo Springs Civic Center, Cattleman’s arena and multiple water/sewer/storm water infrastructure dollars came from the legislature. Hardee County is in a favorable position going forward with incoming President of the Senate residing in Hardee County. Presenting a strategic plan to the President’s office will provide unprecedented transparency and a road map to achieve goals mutually beneficial to our County, Cities and all residents.”

         Grimsley served as Florida State Senator from 2012 – 2018 following her maximum limit of four terms in the Florida House. Representing District 26, Grimsley championed the advancement of vital rural community infrastructure and sponsored over 70 successful bills. Her leadership will guide Hardee County as it seeks representation and opportunity to build the economy.

           Missing from Tuesday’s meeting was Vice Chairman Tommy Watkins. Watkins resigned earlier in the week with a letter to Director Lambert, IDA Chairman Grimsley and Hardee County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Melendy. “While my family and I will continue to farm in Hardee County and be a part of the community, expanding our operation to the state of Georgia necessitates my resignation. While this decision has not been taken lightly, I trust that the future of Hardee County EDC and IDA is in good hands.” The Hardee County IDA board will vote on the new chair and vice chair at a future meeting.


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