Ford to step down as CEO of NewTown Macon

lmorris@macon.comNovember 14, 2013 

NewTown

Mike Ford, president and CEO of NewTown Macon, poses for a photo in the Dannenberg building in 2012.

WOODY MARSHALL/THE TELEGRAPH — WOODY MARSHALL/THE TELEGRAPH

Mike Ford, the longtime president and CEO of NewTown Macon, will leave that post by the end of March.

Ford announced his resignation Wednesday night to NewTown’s board of directors. He could depart sooner if his replacement is found.

“It’s time for me to do something else, and it’s time for someone else to take NewTown to next highest level,” Ford said Thursday.

“We are one and a half years into our five-year plan of adding 125 apartments and keeping them with 85-percent occupancy and increasing commercial occupancy by 25 percent and leveraging $27 million in improvements. And I’m highly confident we can achieve those before the five years. ... So the timing is wonderful.”

Ford started at NewTown Macon in 2002 as a volunteer with the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. He was named chief executive officer soon afterward.

“I think a long time from now we are going to be very excited about having 11 miles of trail and the Amerson River Park,” Ford said. “I don’t take credit for doing that -- it was already going when I got here -- but I think we moved it forward a little bit. Personally, I think that’s my favorite thing I’ve done at NewTown. ... It has been phenomenal for all types of people.”

During his tenure at NewTown, Ford oversaw the completion of a $21 million campaign and the launch of an $18 million campaign to fund NewTown’s third revitalization phase. Also, he helped secure the management of a $5 million bond fund from the Development Authority of Bibb County to serve as “gap financing” in residential projects.

“We are already one year into our third revitalization campaign and seeing unprecedented investment in downtown Macon,” he said.

Chris Sheridan, who serves on NewTown’s board, has known Ford for more than 20 years.

“Mike has done an outstanding job, and I’m going to miss him a great deal,” said Sheridan, president of Chris R. Sheridan & Co., general contractors. “He’s brought NewTown to such a place that I think we will be able to find a good replacement for him because NewTown is so strong now.

“Mike has been wonderful, and he has been the perfect balance of tact and vision and stick-to-it-ness. He just does a great job.”

Mercer University President Bill Underwood, chairman of NewTown Macon’s board, said in a prepared statement, “Mike has been an extraordinary leader for NewTown and for Macon. We are experiencing a remarkable renaissance in Macon and Mike has been a major player in making this happen. We intend to move quickly to secure an outstanding successor to Mike to ensure that none of the positive momentum built under his leadership is lost.”

Ford is not going stop working, and he has a lot of ideas about what his future might hold.

“I’m going to find another volunteer job in Macon,” he said. “I’ve adopted Macon, and I’m going to be here a long time.

“I think it will be another not-for-profit (organization), ... but I might do some property investment.”

Ford said he is a trained accountant, and he might put his certified public accountant certificate to use.

“But most likely, I’ll find a volunteer job for an organization here in Macon that’s looking for leadership on a temporary basis while they look for a real person. I did that before I came to NewTown.”

NewTown’s board officers will be handling the succession plan. Ford’s last day will be March 31 -- or before, if a replacement is identified.

The process to find a new leader for NewTown should not take more than two or three months, Sheridan said. He wasn’t sure if the board will begin looking before the first of the year or wait until after the holidays.

NewTown Macon is a nonprofit organization working to revitalize downtown Macon by increasing the number of residents there, growing jobs and creating a sense of place. Since 1996, NewTown has leveraged more than $400 million of investment in downtown Macon.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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