Jeffersonville, IN (May 16, 2022) – The River Ridge Development Authority (RRDA) laid out a new organizational structure and announced key additions to its leadership during its monthly meeting – moves intended to help the RRDA accelerate growth and economic development activity.
During the meeting, Executive Director Jerry Acy announced the creation of two new chief director positions to help guide and manage key functions of the RRDA. Acy also named new staff members to fill key roles within the organization.
Devin Hillsdon-Smith, previously deputy director of the RRDA, was named chief director of business development and external affairs. In addition, Marc Hildenbrand, a senior project manager with HWC Engineering, is rejoining the RRDA as chief director of engineering & operations.
Greg Fifer, an attorney with Applegate Fifer Pulliam LLC, will replace David Lewis as the Authority’s general counsel. Lewis, who is retiring, will continue in his current role through a transition period. During that time, Fifer will support River Ridge on a consulting basis while continuing to serve clients at his practice.
All three new leadership positions will report to Acy.
Mark Robinson, president of the RRDA board of directors, said he is confident the new and expanded roles of its leaders will allow the organization to build on the success of its operational and economic development initiatives at the River Ridge Commerce Center.
“River Ridge has become one of the most important economic development agencies in the state, and the quality of our leadership reflects that importance,” Robinson said. “The new additions and changes in leadership responsibilities are indicative of how much River Ridge has grown and how important it is to have strong professionals to guide and support that growth now and in the future. We couldn’t be happier with the work Mr. Acy and his team have done to drive progress at River Ridge.”
In the more than two decades since it was established, the River Ridge Commerce Center has become a source of major economic growth for the Louisville-Southern Indiana region. Home to more than 70 companies with over 10,400 on-site workers, the 6,000-acre Commerce Center estimated that it produced a total of $2.5 billion in economic output in 2021 and supported more than 18,000 regional jobs.
The past year has seen growing interest from developers and companies seeking new homes for major operations and businesses as well as growing needs to accelerate infrastructure development within the Commerce Center.
In his new role, Hillsdon-Smith will lead marketing, business development, finance, and audit activities as well as workforce development coordination with RRDA’s partners. Hillsdon-Smith, who serves on the board of the Indiana Economic Development Association, joined the RRDA in 2019 from the Indiana Economic Development Corp., serving initially as vice president of business development and corporate strategy before being promoted to deputy director.
Hildenbrand, a professional civil engineer who worked for the RRDA for nine years before joining HWC Engineering in 2018, previously served as director of project management and utility operations. He brings valuable experience overseeing commercial and industrial site development, design, and construction.
In his new role, Hildenbrand will manage the RRDA’s planning, maintenance and operations team and coordinate with its engineering partners. While previously working at River Ridge, Hildenbrand led the successful pursuit to privately manage and expand the River Ridge water system for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Hildenbrand recruited private partners and staff to operate the growing water system, which supplies businesses that operate within the RRCC.
Additionally, Tom Vittitow has been promoted to senior director of projects and planning. Vittitow, the former director of planning and operations, has served River Ridge for over 13 years and has been responsible for overall planning, project management and site development. He led initial implementation and ongoing compliance of the Commerce Center’s covenants, conditions and restrictions, which has resulted in one of the most appealing and scenic business parks in the country.
Meanwhile, Fifer will work with Acy and the RRDA board to manage all legal services. Fifer, who was admitted to the Indiana Bar Association in 1981 and serves on its Board of Governors, has concentrated his practice in commercial litigation, real estate development, governmental law and appellate practice. He has served as counsel for the Town of Clarksville, New Albany Municipal Sewer Utility, Clark County, and the City of Jeffersonville.
“Mr. Hillsdon-Smith, Mr. Hildenbrand and Mr. Fifer will make a dynamic team to assist Mr. Acy in guiding the direction and serving the needs of the River Ridge Commerce Center,” Robinson said. “This new team adds a depth of professionalism and leadership that is second to none. These are leaders who are well-regarded locally and statewide in their areas of expertise. They will represent us well for years to come.”
During its monthly meeting, the Development Authority also approved contracts representing $3.07 million in infrastructure investments to support ongoing development of the Commerce Center:
- A $2,776,300.62 contract with Kelsey Construction, LLC to complete the roadway and utility improvements needed to serve a large parcel of land being developed.
- A $165,240 contract modification with HCL Demolition Inc. for its Phase V demolition contract to clear and demolish old structures in preparation for development. The modification was necessary to remove five additional foundations.
- A $127,512.44 proposal from Duke Energy to relocate overhead electrical lines and poles within the Commerce Center.