Brown and Kilgo to lead county’s economic office
By Bobby Bryant
Two former members of Darlington County Council have been chosen to lead the county’s economic-development efforts. J. Lewis Brown, who resigned from his Hartsville-area seat on council Feb. 1, has been hired as the county’s economic-development director. Bobby Kilgo, a veteran councilman who represented the Darlington area but did not win re-election in 2020, will serve as deputy director. Both will work under the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership, a department of the county government. The county’s economic-development director for the past nine years, Frank Willis, has retired from that position effective Jan. 22. Brown, who was council’s vice-chairman, and Kilgo “are going to make a great team,” said Darlington County Administrator Charles Stewart, who made the decision to hire them for the jobs. “Both Lewis and Bobby have experience in economic development,” Stewart said. “Both have been keenly active in economic-development matters for County Council.” Also, Stewart said, “with the two of them, you have a nice balance” geographically, since Brown represented the Hartsville/Kelleytown area and Kilgo represented the central Darlington area on council. And, he said, they both are “pro-active individuals.” “It’s a well-rounded choice,” Stewart said. Brown, a longtime Sonoco employee, said he had to resign from his council seat because a new job opportunity – which he did not initially identify – would represent a conflict of interest. A special election to fill his seat will be held June 15. Willis said he felt it was time to retire from his post as the county’s economic-development director. “With all that’s going on, the COVID stuff … the activity level had gotten much slower,” said Willis, 79. “I thought it was a good time for me to step aside.” Willis said he felt good about what he and the county have been able to accomplish during his tenure, especially bringing industrial parks into the county to create an “infrastructure” for new business. “I think we had a pretty good run at it,” said Willis.