Robert Harrington predicts big things ahead for Shelby County, but he won’t be around to make sure the dreams turn into reality.


 


 


   Robert Harrington predicts big things ahead for Shelby County, but he won’t be around to make sure the dreams turn into reality.

   Harrington, 29, is leaving after almost three years as Shelby County economic development director. He has accepted a similar position in Barton County in Southwest Missouri.

   “It was an opportunity that was best for me and my family,” said Harrington, who has a wife and three children. “I’ve always have a spot in my heart for Shelby County. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together.”

   The population of Barton County, a 30-minute drive north of Joplin, is about double that of Shelby County. Harrington said the pay and benefits of the new position are better.

   Highlights for Harrington during more than two years in Shelby County have included the attraction of new merchants or expansion of existing businesses, a survey that helped identify critical needs, improved transportation links, starting a dialogue on how to retain young people and the ongoing development of a 100-acre industrial park in Clarence.

   “The county has done a lot of positive things in the last three years,” Harrington said. “We’ve gotten into what we can do to improve the county. We’ve had a lot of progress.”

   Harrington said 2010 “will be a great year” for Shelby County as long as people stay involved in the economic development process.

   The resignation is effective Sunday. A committee will meet Feb. 18 to start the process for a replacement.