The Sanford Area Growth Alliance (SAGA) has named Stanly County Economic Development Director Mike Smith as it’s new chief executive offer. Smith succeeds departing CEO Joy Thrush, who has led the organization since 2015. A Durham native, Smith has extensive experience in economic development and has held positions in Davidson County, Statesville and the North Carolina Department of Commerce, prior to his tenure in Stanly County. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Carolina University.
Smith is excited to be joining SAGA and to play a role in Sanford’s ongoing growth, noting “I am thrilled to be joining the SAGA team at this exciting time for Lee County. This community has really pulled together to provide an amazing climate for economic growth and I am anxious to be a part of it.”
Smith emerged as SAGA’s choice after an extensive search that considered over 50 candidates. SAGA Chairman Kirk Bowman comments, “We are excited to have Mike join the team during this important time for our community. This area has put all of the right building blocks in place to be positioned for some economic wins. The investment in SAGA, both public and private, has made us one of the most looked at communities for industry investment.”
SAGA has been in existence since 2014 as a merger of the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce and Lee County’s Economic Development department. Smith joins SAGA on September 11 and will make his public debut at SAGA’s annual meeting, taking place September 12.