Published July 19. 2013 4:00AM
New London - Fairfield resident C. Stephen MacKenzie, an executive with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, has been named to head the region's leading economic-development agency.
The SouthEastern Connecticut Enterprise Region's board of directors said Thursday that the 50-year-old MacKenzie, who is expected to relocate to the region, will assume his new responsibilities as executive director of SeCTer Aug. 1.
MacKenzie fills a post vacated by the late John Markowicz about a year ago.
"Steve MacKenzie stood out because of the breadth of his experience, his knowledge of the State of Connecticut economic development process and players, and his personality, which we believe will be a good fit with our board, our staff and with the folks that use seCTer's services," Mark Oefinger, chairman of the development agency's board, said in a statement.
MacKenzie, reached Thursday at his office in Rocky Hill, said he believed SeCTer was most interested in his familiarity with statewide issues as well as a diverse background that includes being born and raised in Canada and spending four years in Belgium.
He said he will spend his first few weeks as executive director becoming more familiar with the region and getting up to speed with local issues, including the controversy concerning the impending tear-down of Pfizer Inc.'s Building 118, the massive former research headquarters that the pharmaceutical giant unsuccessfully tried to sell or lease.
MacKenzie, a senior vice president at CERC, said he was very familiar with Markowicz and members of his staff, having accompanied them on tours of economic-development sites in the region.
"I always thought SeCTer was a great organization, and the region had great potential," he said.
He said Markowicz left a "magnificent legacy" by leading the charge as the region survived two rounds of proposed base closures that targeted the U.S. Naval Submarine Base.
MacKenzie said local job growth will come mostly through encouraging and aiding the expansion of local businesses already in the region. At the same time, he said SeCTer should continue fostering local entrepreneurship through the SECT Tech program at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.
At CERC, MacKenzie heads the Economic Development Services Division, which includes Connecticut's Business Response Center, Smart Start and the Real Estate Department.
Before joining CERC, he was economic development director in Stamford.
James S. Butler, executive director of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, spent the past seven months as interim head of SeCTer.
Previously, Richard B. Erickson spent time in the same role.