The Southwestern Commission plays a key role in economic development for the seven western counties. Formed by the federal government in 1965, the commission acts as a conduit for local governments to receive federal funding for infrastructure, business development and training or other services. The organization also provides monitoring and oversight of grants and funding given to governments.
Sherby is only the third director in the organization’s 50-year history, but now the board will need to begin looking for his replacement. Sherby’s last day will be April 29. In his resignation letter, Sherby cited wanting to spend more time with his family and returning to his passion for cartographic science as his reason for leaving.
“It’s been a pleasure working with you, the elected officials, and all the other partnering organizations in the region over the last nine years. The SWC and region it supports is full of opportunities and ready for prosperity,” Sherby wrote in his letter. “I fully intend to assist in the transition in whatever way the board and executive committee deems fit.”
Sherby spent five years with SWC as a transportation planner before former director Bill Gibson tapped him to take over when he retired. Gibson had spent 40 years with the organization and his departure represented a changing of the guard for the commission.
Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown, who served as chairman of SWC for two years when Sherby first came on board, said Sherby’s biggest accomplishments during his tenure were the completion of the Opt-In project — a regional visioning effort to try and resolve broader transportation and economic development challenges — and the revitalization of the revolving loan fund.
“We must remember that he also oversaw the core services which included workforce development, aging initiatives, community planning, leadership assistance project management, the RPO (Regional Planning Organization) and many other services,” Brown said. “He had a staff of about 20 and a budget of over $7 million. Ryan clearly saw that regionalism is the key to future economic success in the seven western counties that comprise The Southwest Commission.”
The SWC board’s next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 28, at the Boiler Room Steakhouse in Franklin. No plan or timeline has been announced for finding Sherby’s replacement.