Michael Smith, the Sanford Area Growth Alliance’s economic development director and former CEO, will leave the organization to become president of the Economic Development Corporation in neighboring Chatham County.

The Chatham County Economic Development Corporation issued a press release about the news on Wednesday morning. Smith is expected to begin work there on Jan. 25.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve as the next President of the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation. This is an exciting opportunity to work in a fast-growing area that has an amazing group of assets in place, including the Chatham Park live/work/play community, the 2,150-acre Triangle Innovation Point life science and advanced manufacturing park, and the 1,800 acre Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing mega site,” Smith said in the press release. “I am grateful to have held a leadership position in Sanford where our team had a record setting year. I look forward to building on this regional momentum in a location that’s a part of the Research Triangle Region and the center point of the Carolina Core.”

Jimmy Randolph, SAGA’s current CEO, praised Smith in an email to The Rant on Wednesday and said he expects to continue working together given the two counties’ proximity.

“I’m very excited for Michael and for the Chatham EDC. SAGA has experienced tremendous success during Michael’s tenure, and Chatham has many of the essential elements for economic development success in place as well. SAGA has taken a regional view in marketing itself as an integral part of the Research Triangle, and Chatham County, with all its diverse assets, is an important part of that same regional economic development ecosystem,” he said. “The City of Sanford and Chatham County partnered to provide sewer to Triangle Innovation Point at Moncure, greatly enhancing the park’s viability as a potential industrial site, and offering Sanford the prospect of significant new utility revenues. We look forward to working with Michael to build on this existing partnership and identify other mutually beneficial opportunities for collaboration as well.”