New Granville EDC director ready for challenge

Jul. 11, 2014 @ 06:50 PM

OXFORD — Harry Mills came back to Granville County seven years ago to care for his mother. Now he’s added the care of economic development for his home county.

His appointment to the position of director of economic development was announced recently by Granville County Manager Michael Felts. He will begin his new duties Wednesday.

“My intention is to see where everybody is and what direction we’re heading in,” Mills said. “I’ll look at steps other development directors have taken and see what we can do to let others see what a great place Granville County is to do business.”

For the past 5½ years, Mills has worked as case manager at the Granville County Senior Center.

Mills follows Bill Edwards, who had been interim director since June 1, 2012, following former director Jay Tilley.

Edwards stepped in after his resignation as president of the Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce in early 2012, where he had served since December 2003. He worked with Sprint, now known as CenturyLink, for 35 years prior to coming out of retirement to lead the chamber.

Edwards declined comment. He recently told the county commissioners he had enjoyed the working relationship with them.

Mills grew up in Granville County. His father died when he was 7, leaving him to be raised by his mother, Callie Mills.

Mills attended local public schools and graduated from J.F. Webb High School, where he played on the varsity basketball team for three years. He went to Mount Olive College on a basketball scholarship before transferring his basketball talents to Warren Wilson College. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1983. He was recently elected to the Warren Wilson basketball hall of fame.

Mills enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served four years before receiving an honorable discharge.

For more than 26 years, Mills provided planning, budgeting and management services in a variety of community and nonprofit organizations in California and Texas.

“I came back to Granville County in 2007 to take care of my mother,” he said.

She now lives with him and his wife.

More than 35 applications were received for the position, Felts said. He conducted several telephone interviews and three in-person interviews during the selection process.

Felts said Mills brings a number of assets to the position.

“He’s native to the area,” he said. “I think that will play very favorably.”

Felts added Mills’ diverse background, positive attitude and collaborative style will work well for him in his new role.

He pointed out Mills already has roots deep in the community. He is active on several community boards — including the Granville County Community Foundation, Area Congregation in Ministry and the 4-H Advisory Committee. He serves on the vestry board for his church.

Mills’ wife, Meredith, is assistant principal at Butner-Stem Elementary School. His daughter, Kayla, is a rising junior at UNC Greensboro.


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