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Mickey Fornaro-Dean will arrive Jan. 3 to take the Economic Development Commission directorship, which as been empty almost a year.

She recently facilitated the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ retreat.

Chamber CEO Dennis Beson said, in addition to her 25 years of economic development experience (including two directorships in other counties), Fornaro-Dean is “very well connected at the state level.”

“The (Kansas) Secretary of Commerce, I think, had some desires and wishes for her to join his team,” he said. “And she wants to be here. And that’s exciting to me.”

Fornaro-Dean has signed on with a six-month contract where she will be in Junction City for a three-day solid block every workweek and spend two days away.

The Chamber Board did question this unusual contract at its recent meeting.

Beson said the EDC had chosen Fornaro-Dean after Beson met her while she was working on something else.

He and the search committee to offer Fornaro-Dean the job rather than waiting three or four months for another qualified candidate.  

Several people applied, but many applicants didn’t have the EDC experience that would have qualified them for the position. Several others declined, including one who had already offered a verbal agreement.

“Unusual times sometimes cause us to have unusual measures,” County Commissioner Ben Bennett said. “The committee felt that this was a good opportunity.”

Fornaro-Dean is a Kansan, and Beson feels she understands the state’s climate.

Despite spending some time out of Geary County, she will be putting in the hours as the full-time director. If, after her contract is up, both Fornaro-Dean and the EDC are satisfied, the contract will be renewed. 

She has plans to move here in about a year, if everything works out.

Beson feels the new director will be able to use her travels to promote Junction City far beyond Geary County’s borders.

“It’s not a ‘behind the desk’ position,” he said. “It’s about being out in the community.”

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