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Dan Lynch, Greensboro's chief industry recruiter, retiring

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GREENSBORO — Dan Lynch, the city’s chief industry recruiter, who has been involved with some of the city’s top economic development achievements and has been criticized recently by some local leaders, said Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the year.

Lynch, the president of the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance, said in an interview that he decided over the Christmas holidays that he wants to “decompress” and find work that he can enjoy that helps the community, even if voluntary.

“That was the first downtime we’d had since Thanksgiving,” he said. “We just talked about how I’m in a very good place. I’m in a position to say, ‘Now is a good time to do that.’ I may be a volunteer, I may be part time.”

Lynch, who will turn 63 next month, has an impressive resume of economic development success during his 10 years with the alliance.

Lynch and his team recruited Honda Aircraft, an American Express data center and computer-maker Lenovo’s first U.S. factory.

The Honda Aircraft project alone has generated more than 900 jobs in the aviation business, even before Honda’s first light jet rolls out for delivery in early 2015.

But in recent months Lynch has drawn fire from elected officials and business leaders who believe his performance isn’t up to par.

The most public blast came from developer Roy Carroll, who owns the Rhino Times newspaper. Carroll said that Lynch hasn’t demonstrated any results in his position.

Greensboro’s business community has always operated quietly, but Lynch’s supporters rallied around him in January and defended their approach to recruiting industry to Greensboro.

And Lynch said definitively that the criticism had nothing to do with his retirement.

He said Wednesday that criticism comes with the job, and it’s akin to being in the sports business.

“We’re like a coach,” he said. “It’s hard to keep everybody happy all the time unless you’re winning all the time.”

“There’s always going to be others out there who think you’re not doing it right or need to do more and they just don’t understand it,” he said.

City Councilman Zack Matheny, one of Lynch’s most vocal critics, has said that City Council members didn’t know Lynch well.

Earlier this year, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said Lynch should have a conversation with city leaders to chart priorities for economic development in Greensboro.

A conversation was scheduled, but a snowstorm wiped it out.

But Lynch said that leaders have had plenty of time to get to know him. The city and county managers sit on his group’s executive committee and City Council members, including Vaughan when she was a City Council member, sit on an advisory board.

Lynch’s economic development career covers 28 years with stops along the way.

He spent about nine years as the head of the High Point Economic Development Corp., helping to diversify an economy long reliant on the furniture industry.

During Lynch’s tenure, 92 companies relocated to or expanded their operations in High Point, bringing in more than $300 million in investment.

Lynch left High Point in 1996 for an economic development job in Orlando, Fla.

He returned to the Triad in 1999 and attempted to rally community support for the $500 million FedEx hub scheduled to open at Piedmont Triad International Airport. The hub opened about 10 years later.

In the process, he became a frequent target of criticism from hub opponents.

That period was so vicious, he said Wednesday, that he got threatening calls in the middle of the night.

Eventually, he assumed the role as Greensboro’s chief corporate recruiter and was instrumental in landing CitiCorp, PreCor and Ameritox and helped convince Proctor & Gamble and RF Micro to expand here, rather than go elsewhere.

An immediate search will be made to find Lynch’s replacement, the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance said a news release.

Contact Richard M. Barron at (336) 373-7371, and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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