The Volusia County Council on March 17 confirmed Helga van Eckert as the county’s new economic development director. The council’s confirmation of County Manager George Recktenwald’s selection of van Eckert to fill the post was unanimous.
“Ms. van Eckert brings a wealth of talent and experience in the economic development field,” Recktenwald told council members. “Her mix of experience and her track record of results that includes business recruitment and numerous successful economic development and redevelopment projects — which I think are very important — and public-private partnerships make Ms. van Eckert, I think, ideally suited as we move our economic development efforts forward.”
Van Eckert’s economic development perspective includes eight years as executive director of the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity. She also led economic development and redevelopment efforts for the City of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, for nearly 12 years prior to moving to Florida and has served in several leadership roles, including the governor’s appointee to the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council and the northeast regional representative to the Florida Economic Development Council.
Recktenwald recruited van Eckert to fill the economic development director position vacated by the former director, Rob Ehrhardt, who retired in May 2019. Her hiring comes amid the economic fallout from the ongoing global health crisis, and that was clearly on the minds of council members, staff and van Eckert. And everyone agreed that will mean focusing on helping businesses that are already here, as well as recruiting new business.
“You have an amazing team here already, and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it,” van Eckert told the council. “And I do believe that going forward, with what we’re going through today, it’s more important than ever that we focus on the retention and expansion of existing businesses in the community.”
Rick Karl, the county’s director of aviation and economic development, said he was thrilled to welcome van Eckert to the county and added that she will be an excellent addition to the economic development team.
“We’re excited to have Ms. van Eckert join our team and bring her economic development leadership to Volusia County,” Karl said. “Countywide economic development is a complex undertaking, with multiple stakeholders and occasionally competing agendas. Her experience and expertise in building consensus and developing effective teams and policies that include interagency and interdepartment collaboration will be instrumental as our county continues to grow.”