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story.lead_photo.caption Rob Sitterley

The new organization devoted to bringing businesses and jobs to the Texarkana region has named its first leader.

Rob Sitterley will be the first president and CEO of AR-TX Regional Economic Development Inc., the organization announced in a news release, saying he "brings proven experience in economic development consulting and site selection services to the position."

Sitterley is the right person to lead AR-TX REDI's efforts to build a stronger regional economy, said Sonja Hubbard, board president.

"He has an ideal blend of experience in the private sector as well as vital knowledge and skills in negotiating and planning projects on behalf of government and public entities," Hubbard said.

Sitterley will be leaving his position as a principal of Merit Advisors LLC, "a leader in the industry of strategic tax and incentives guidance for businesses and organizations," according to the release.

Previously, Sitterley headed the business development team for Florida's principal economic development organization, a public-private partnership called Enterprise Florida Inc. Under his leadership, the team established 425 economic development projects that created more than 78,000 jobs, retained more than 34,000 jobs and invested $7.9 billion in new capital expenditures throughout Florida.

Before that, Sitterley worked in the private sector for more than 12 years, serving as vice president at Fiscal Advisors and Marketing Inc., the largest privately held financial advisory firm in the state of New York.

While there, Sitterley worked as a public finance advisor for New York's schools and municipalities, specializing in the issuance and marketing of municipal bonds and assisting more than 300 local governments in the planning, coordinating, negotiation, financing and marketing of approximately $7.2 billion in temporary and permanent financing.

Sitterley earned dual bachelor degrees in economics and business and graduated cum laude from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. In 2013, Skidmore inducted Sitterley, as a member of the 1993-1994 men's golf team, into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Bowie County Judge James Carlow said the success of AR-TX REDI will predict the prosperity of the region.

"Finding the right person for the job of AR-TX REDI president/CEO is vital to fulfilling the mission of the organization," Carlow said, calling Sitterley "one of the top economic development professionals in the country."

"I am pleased we were able to attract a candidate of his caliber," Carlow said.

Texarkana, Ark., Mayor Allen Brown said collaborating with AR-TX REDI is a high priority as he begins his term of office.

"As a community, you have to be proactive in economic development, and bringing on Sitterley is a great place to start. This is the opportunity we have all been waiting for. AR-TX REDI has helped all of us shift our view of our iconic State Line Avenue to a unifying agent rather than a dividing line," Brown said.