New Collier economic development leader selected

William DeShazer/Staff 
 Collier County Economic Development Director candidate, Bruce Register, talks with members of the public during a meet and greet sponsored by the Naples Area Board of Realtors at HB's on the Gulf in the Naples Beach Hotel on Friday Dec. 7, 2012.

Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER, Naples Daily News

William DeShazer/Staff Collier County Economic Development Director candidate, Bruce Register, talks with members of the public during a meet and greet sponsored by the Naples Area Board of Realtors at HB's on the Gulf in the Naples Beach Hotel on Friday Dec. 7, 2012.

Collier County has a new economic development leader.

County Manager Leo Ochs announced Friday afternoon that he selected Bruce Register as the director of business and economic development. Register accepted the job.

"Bruce was selected from a number of exemplary candidates, and we're fortunate to add such an experienced individual to the county's professional staff," Ochs said in a statement. "Having a director with Bruce's credentials is crucial to accomplish the economic development goals for the Board of County Commissioners."

Register, 53, is currently the corporate business development manager for Hillsborough County, a position he has held since 1997. In addition to his economic development experience, Register co-owns Dot Walden Farms in Dover, Fla, near Tampa.

"I am delighted for the opportunity to serve Collier County and look forward to working toward improved prosperity for all its citizens," Register said in a statement.

Collier commissioners unanimously approved the creation of the Office of Business and Economic Development on June 26. The office will work to attract new businesses, and help existing businesses to grow and expand within Collier County.

County officials hope it will be a "high-level one-stop effort" by coordinating with all state and regional economic development resources.

Register could not immediately be reached for comment, but he said earlier this month that the job with the county was a "fantastic opportunity."

"I am really impressed with Collier County. It's really held it's own in this down economy," he said at the time. "I think it is very much poised for an advance in the coming months and years. You have a cultivated, sophisticated urban presence, as well as a rural presence."

Register said he saw his job as bringing a balance to the community between different interests — urban and rural among them.

"I am a liaison between the county government, the business community and the private, nonprofit organizations," he said. "It's about cooperation. People are in this together in this community. Cooperation is the only option."

Joe Paterno, executive director of the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board who sat on a selection committee, said Register was well qualified and had some great answers to questions.

"He came prepared with things he wanted to accomplish in the first 90 days, first 100 days," Paterno said. "He seemed like he would be a positive leader with some of the issues the county needs (a leader on). The final decision rested with Leo and I support Leo's decision."

Register, a native Floridian, holds a bachelor's degree in government and philosophy from Florida State University and a master's degree in public administration from the University of South Florida. He is a certified economic developer through the Economic Development Council.

He is expected to start his new position in late January. His annual salary will be $103,500.

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