Rick Langford is up for a challenge. As the newly hired economic development director for the
Henrietta Growth Corporation, he has to be.
Langford steps into the role with the New Year, taking over the position Jan. 3. He will spend his first days shaping up an office that has been vacant since the departure of Sammy Hatfield in April.
Working with the city to improve its economic stability is a task familiar to Langford, who served as mayor for 11 years, from 1996 until 2007. During that time, he was instrumental in economic development and played a role bringing a Best Western motel to town.
“I have a vested interest in Henrietta,” said Langford. “I want to see Henrietta thrive.”
Langford, 55, is a native of Henrietta and graduated from Henrietta High School in 1974. He has lived in Henrietta most of his life. He and wife Cindy moved to Wichita Falls shortly after marrying. They returned to Clay County and lived 11 years in Bluegrove after the 1979 tornado destroyed large swaths of Wichita Falls.
Rick and Cindy Langford have one daughter, Lorna and husband Shane Franke of Decatur.
Langford said he did not intend to apply for the position but reconsidered after talking to HGC President Scott Clayton.
“After he and I discussed it, it rekindled my interest,” said Langford.
Clayton said Langford stood out among the other 10-12 applicants because of his time as mayor, and experience working with former city managers Robert Patrick and Joe Pence.
Langford earns an annual salary of $60,000 plus travel expenses.
In the time since Langford stepped down as mayor, there has been a complete change in the government of Henrietta, from the council to the city manager and department heads. “So there is no memory base of prior preparations – of plans laid out,” said Langford.
Once the office is in shape, Langford will begin visiting businesses in Henrietta to get a first-hand perspective on what the city needs to improve its economic worth.
“I know economic times are bad, but you have to concentrate on what you have,” said Langford.
Among his primary interests is developing areas of the city along Hwy. 287 for retail.
The Henrietta Growth Corporation operates on a .25-cent ‘4B’ sales tax, designated by the state for economic growth projects.
Langford is guest speaker at the Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce Banquet Saturday, Jan. 21.