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Montgomery County Economic Development Head To Step Down

Montgomery County Economic Development Corp. CEO David Petr at a 2018 Bisnow event

Montgomery County will soon have a new top economic development official. 

David Petr, who has led the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp. since its inception in 2016, will step aside at the end of his three-year term in September, the organization said in a release Monday. 

The release said Petr plans to move to Texas for family reasons. The EDC does not yet have his successor in place, but its Governance Committee will lead the search. 

Petr previously served as president of the Central Florida Development Council before moving up to Maryland. The Montgomery County Council in 2016 spun off the county's Department of Economic Development from a government agency into a nonprofit, naming Petr as its first president and CEO. 

During his time, Petr led the county's efforts to compete for Amazon HQ2, earning Montgomery County a place in the tech giant's 20-city shortlist before losing out to neighboring Northern Virginia. The county lost one large employer in Discovery Communications, which announced last year it would move its headquarters from Silver Spring to New York City. It retained a major corporate tenant in 2017 when Marriott International announced it would keep its headquarters in Bethesda, moving into a new high-rise development. 

The county has added over 1,300 new jobs, retained over 3,800 existing jobs and drawn $375M in capital investment since Petr began leading the EDC in 2016, according to the release. 

“Until the end of my term, my focus will be to capitalize on recent business recruitment efforts, deliver on our most significant strategic initiatives, and establish a strong and sustainable private fundraising plan," Petr said in the release. "We have too much momentum at the MCEDC to do anything less than to execute boldly.”  

Some business leaders have expressed concern over the county's economic future. Empower Montgomery, an advocacy group established by business executives, commissioned two reports last year from Sage Policy Group that detailed the slow pace of business formation and job growth in the county, recommending a series of steps to improve its financial health.

Bob Buchanan, a developer and chair of the EDC's board, said Petr has had a positive impact on the county in his three years leading the organization. 

"David has elevated the Montgomery County brand regionally and nationally, and has created a strong foundation that we can build upon," Buchanan said in the release. "He has assembled a strong team and a smart strategic plan that we will continue to execute upon to create results for the county."