People - June 2005

Utility executive lends his energy to Commerce
By Kathy Brown

Some executives grow with the job. Sandy Jordan, the new director of business recruitment at the N.C. Department of Commerce, figures his job got a head start on him. “It’s a competitive business. It’s no longer a matter of North Carolina competing with Virginia, South Carolina or Georgia for projects. We’re competing with locations worldwide.”

Jordan, 57, was appointed by Secretary Jim Fain in January to succeed Ray Denny, who retired. Jordan is from the executive-on-loan program at Progress Energy, where he is vice president of economic development. Progress still pays his salary, which wasn’t disclosed. Jordan, who has been involved with economic development more than 20 years, will work with two dozen Department of Commerce economic developers assigned to North Carolina’s seven regional partnerships and elsewhere.

He has stepped into the role at a pivotal time. Each region completed studies within the last year that identified cluster industries to target, based on its other industries and resources. Recruiters will go after relevant projects through advertising, trade shows, direct mailings, site-selection consultants and allies such as utilities and banks that benefit from new businesses.

A Charlotte native, Jordan graduated from N.C. State University in 1970 with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. He married his college sweetheart and joined the Georgia Department of Transportation as a traffic engineer in metro Atlanta. After eight years, he left to become deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade.

In 1982, he returned to North Carolina to work for First Union National Bank as vice president for economic development, followed by stints in marketing and sales for the company that developed North Hills shopping center and for Kimley-Horn & Associates, an engineering company, both in the Triangle. A headhunter approached him in 1998 about an economic-development opening at Carolina Power & Light, now Progress Energy, for manager of projects in North Carolina. He was promoted to vice president of economic development in 2001.

Jordan can extol North Carolina’s virtues to site-selection teams — including its golf courses. He has a handicap of 10. He also likes bicycling. On his bedside table is David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of John Adams.

So, with an interest in past presidents and a job in public service at Commerce, does Jordan, son of a former Charlotte city councilman, harbor political ambitions? “None whatsoever,” he says. But landing a few more companies would be nice.