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Fargo-Moorhead EDC president leaving for job in Orlando

Brian Walters, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp., is leaving to join the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission in Orlando, Fla.

Walters, a Lignite, N.D., native who became president of the former Fargo Cass County Economic Development Corp. in 2002, will become executive vice president of business development for the Orlando organization starting June 1.

"It was a very difficult decision to make," said Walters, who was recruited by a national search firm for the Orlando position.

While at the GFMEDC, Walters championed the need to refocus the local economy by bringing high-tech companies and high-paying jobs to Fargo-Moorhead.

He proposed raising the local sales tax by a half-cent to generate $9.4 million annually for 12 years to fund economic development in biomedicine device technology, vaccine development, embedded computer systems technology and establish new college curriculums in those areas.

The June 2008 sales tax vote failed by a 63 to 37 percent margin.

But the GFMEDC's focus on economic growth continues, he said.

"Fargo-Moorhead is a great place that has a dynamic, diversified economy. It's got great infrastructure and great capacity to be one of the cities that performs very well going into the future," Walters said Wednesday.

Walters lobbied for expanded local airline service, calling it critical for retaining existing companies and businesses and attracting new ones.

"He will be greatly missed," said Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Fargo's Municipal Airport Authority.

"Brian was always actively involved in meetings with airlines that currently serve us or airlines that are interested in the Fargo market," Dobberstein said.

Walters was hired in February 2002 to become president of the former Fargo-Cass County Economic Development Corp.

During his tenure, the organization expanded to include Moorhead and Clay County and in May 2005 became the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp.

A national search for Walter's replacement will begin as soon as possible, said Ron Robson, chairman of the GFMEDC board of directors.

"Greater Fargo-Moorhead has benefited immeasurably from Brian's intelligence, as well as his talent for bringing people with diverse goals together to improve our communities," Robson said.