Rush Harris, CEcD, has been selected to serve as the new Executive Director of the Marshall Economic Development Corporation w(Marshall EDC) by a unanimous vote of the organization’s Board of Directors. Harris will be replacing, Donna Maisel, CEcD who announced her retirement last month. Harris previously held the title of Director of Business Services for Marshall EDC and has worked with the EDC for over six years.
“I am honored to serve as the Executive Director of our local economic development organization. Not everyone gets the opportunity to engage in a profession they are passionate about, much less, to do so in your own hometown,” said Harris. “Over the past 12 years, Donna has led a professional organization through good and bad times, with a focus on employment, industry growth, and continuous internal improvement. I will continue that, as well as address the issues and opportunities of the future.”
Harris continued, “Our EDC requires us to wear many hats and take on many roles which I’ve experienced firsthand with many projects, tasks, and initiatives. It’s an opportunity many don’t get to experience in larger EDC organizations.”
Hal Cornish, Chairman of Marshall EDC commented, “Marshall EDC began an early strategy for a long term staff succession plan. Rush’s expertise in many areas, recent certification and extensive knowledge of the community have been and will continue to be a tremendous asset. The organization is fortunate to be able to retain and promote from within. Promoting Rush to Executive Director provides a strong continuity of the high level of service and productivity of the organization. Based upon his performance and drive for excellence over the years, we have every confidence in him and his ability to manage the EDC.”
Rush Harris is a native of Marshall. He graduated from Marshall High School in 1995 and attended Southern Methodist University, graduating with a BA in Business Administration. While at SMU, Harris interned with the United States Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center and served as President of Phi Delta Theta. From 2002-2004 Harris volunteered with the United States Peace Corps in the Agricultural Marketing program in Guatemala. He obtained a certificate in International Marketing from the US Peace Corps during his time there, as well as Advanced level fluency in Spanish from ACTFL.
In 2008, Harris pursued an MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, where he graduated with Honors from the internationally recognized business school. While at Thunderbird, Harris participated in an emerging sustainable markets program while studying abroad in Brazil. He also obtained certifications in Conflict Mediation and Global Business Communications. As he worked with Marshall EDC, Harris completed the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Basic Economic Development Course taught through Texas A&M University.
He continued this specialized education through the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (OUEDI), receiving his OUEDI Economic Development Certification. In 2020, Harris qualified to test for the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) professional designation. He received the designation last spring and is one of approximately 1100 active CEcDs across North America.
Harris explains, “I’m glad to be in Marshall. There are real and practical opportunities for growth, both financially and in terms of our population, right here in Marshall. How our community unifies and how we plan toward that growth matters. How we educate and train our future labor force to fulfill the growth of that demand is of paramount importance,” said Harris. “I’ve spent a good deal of time studying and applying skills for economic development. At Marshall EDC, I’ve put that knowledge into actual practice. I’m ready and honored to lead this organization and serve Marshall.”
Harris is active in several local organizations. He currently serves as President of the Marshall Boys & Girls Club Local Advisory Council and sits on the Board of Governors for the regional Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Pines. Additionally, he sits on the Board of Directors for both Trinity Episcopal School and the East Texas 100 Club.
In addition to his economic development experience, Harris has worked in various capacities within the distribution, farming, timber, oil and gas, financial, professional services, and information technology sectors.
Harris is married to Dinora, whom he met while living in Guatemala. Dinora currently works with the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce.Dinora and Rush have two children.
“We’ve loved being back in Marshall with our daughters and near my parents, Dr. James and Beverly Harris. Work-life balance is always a challenge, but life is good when you can live in a great community, have a job you love, and still be close to your family,” said Harris. “I am hopeful to be a part of Marshall’s economic growth for many years to come.”