Ask a mechanic about the workings of an internal combustion engine and most likely they’ll tell you it works best when all of the cogs are turning in unison for maximum performance.
Weatherford’s economic engine has been humming with great efficiency for more than a decade, thanks to the efforts of Dennis Clayton, Director of Weatherford Economic Development.
But things are about to change as Clayton, the West Texas transplant, announced his plans to retire shortly after the first of the year, on Feb. 3
"It’s a good time to retire," he said.
Clayton came to Weatherford in 2004 with an impressive resume. He is a registered architect with more than 26 years of experience, including more than 20 years as a corporate architect and business owner before coming to Weatherford.
Clayton started his career in economic development, eighteen years ago, with the Midland Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Division and the Midland Development Corporation as Vice-President of Economic Development. It was during that time he became a certified Economic Developer from the International Economic Development Council.
In July of 2004 he was recruited to Weatherford to be the first Economic Development Director of the newly formed non-profit, Weatherford Economic Development Authority, Inc. – (WEDA).
"The reason former Mayor Tison and the council formed WEDA, was because they could see and anticipate the economic growth to come," Clayton said. "The first new major shopping center’s had already begun and they needed to step up their economic development program."
Enter Clayton - the first recorded director of the current program.
"We expected a lot, we have accomplished a lot, and there’s more to come," Clayton said.
In spite of the city’s strong growth during his tenure Clayton, who is 65, said the last twelve years have been “awesome” for new business development. But, it’s the last two years he said that will stick out most in his mind with the opening of Keg1 O’Neal Distribution Center and the expansion of Power Service Products in the industrial park, both major economic development projects; Film Ally a major regional entertainment attraction; and retailers like Academy and Hobby Lobby who have recently broken ground in Weatherford. He said he is also very proud of the on-going new development in the historic downtown business district.
“Dennis has served the city and the community for the past 12 years. He has worked with existing businesses to help meet their needs and with new ones interested in coming to this community,” said City Manager Sharon Hayes. “He has also been actively involved in many non-profit organizations in the area and has always represented the City in a positive way.”
As for what retirement looks like, Clayton said he enjoys wood working.
"I have a shop and do some pretty extensive cabinet making. That’s my therapy," he said with a grin. "If you talk to my wife it’s about making sawdust. I think I’ll build some furniture and make some sawdust."
Clayton said he will remember his time with the city with great fondness.
"I’m grateful to the City of Weatherford for choosing me and for giving me the resources and the flexibility to succeed," Clayton added. "Whoever is the next person is to follow me, hang on. There’s more of the same thing on the way."