CHARLESTON, W.Va. The executive director of the Putnam County Development Authority said Tuesday that he would resign after nearly 15 years on the job and become president and CEO of the Huntington Area Development Council.
Gary Walton, 61, said he would start the job in Huntington on April 15.
"I was asked by a person who said I should submit a résumé and I did," Walton said. "I had a lot of reservations -- I've loved working here."
The Putnam County Development Authority hired Walton, an Indiana native, in 1999. He replaced Debbie Phillips, who ran the agency while Toyota decided to place a new plant in Buffalo.
In his early years as director, Walton lived in a house on property inside the Putnam Business Park in Fraziers Bottom.
"It was just raw land. I'd ride around trying to keep it clear so it could be sold," he said. "And it did, to a Japanese company named Nippon Thermostat."
Nippon announced last year it would double the size of its operations in Fraziers Bottom and create an additional 30 jobs. Ludowici LLC, an Australian company, purchased land last year.
The business park has 205 acres and about 50 of those house six businesses on the north side of U.S. 35. County officials have started clearing land on the south side of the highway and recently got a grant to extend utilities in the park.
Walton has taken numerous business trips to Japan through the years. Putnam is home to eight Japanese companies.
In his new position, he said he would still get to travel.
On Tuesday morning, Walton said he was drafting a new job advertisement to search for his replacement.