Town of Pulaski Mayor Jeff Worrell announced today the appointment of Shawn M. Utt as Pulaski’s new Town Manager. Utt will replace John J. Hawley who has served in the position for more than eleven years, but who recently announced his retirement. He will begin his new duties in mid-October.
Utt brings over 14 years of experience in planning and management, including his most recent seven years with Pulaski County where he served as community development director, focusing on economic and community development, comprehensive planning, grant writing/administration and public relations.
In announcing the appointment, Worrell noted Utt’s significant experience, knowledge and commitment to planning as a significant strength: one of the major, future emphases of Town Council.
“Mr. Utt’s outstanding background in planning was attractive to us in many ways. His work within and commitment to the region suggested he has an understanding of the challenges we face in Southwest Virginia and in the Town of Pulaski,” noted Worrell.
Utt said, “The Town of Pulaski has a great deal of untapped potential, and I am excited to help lead the community forward. I appreciate the trust and faith the town council has in me as their next town manager, and I am looking forward to working with the town staff to help make Pulaski a more prosperous community.”
Working with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the New River Economic Development Alliance, Utt has guided significant industrial projects to Pulaski County, including most recently Phoenix Packaging, Falls Stamping and Welding and Korona, S.A.
Aric Bopp, executive director of the New River Economic Development Alliance said of Utt’s appointment, “Shawn is a critical player among the regional economic developers. We are fortunate to have him in a new, significant position of leadership in the town of Pulaski.”
Prior to working for Pulaski County, Utt was a regional planner for the New River Planning District Commission and was public relations director for the city of Radford. At the Planning District Commission, he had an opportunity to work on the town of Pulaski’s Flood Mitigation Plan. His duties at the planning commission offered him experience in helping draft comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances, both future agenda items for the town of Pulaski. While in Radford, he worked closely with grant writing and its administration.
Shawn has also had experience as an entrepreneur, instrumental in the start-up of “Floors by Design,” a hardwood flooring company. Such experience has served him well as a board member of “Micro-Solutions,” a cooperative venture in small-business development of the county, town, and Beans and Rice Inc. He has worked closely with the town’s economic development department on joint projects, including studies on the Dalton Building and a recent grant application to the Department of Community Development and Housing for Industrial Revitalization Fund. He has acted as the county’s intergovernmental liaison to town council.
In the aftermath of the 2011 tornadoes that struck the town and county, Utt played a critical role in attracting and disseminating funds for recovery. Through it all, he volunteered using his construction skills on rebuilding houses.
Pulaski County Administrator Peter M. Huber noted that “One of Shawn’s greatest strengths is in making things happen by utilizing tools and resources readily available to him, and the town will be well-served by his abilities. I am glad to see him grow professionally and look forward to working with him in his new capacity as town manager.”
Shawn is a native of Galax, and is a graduate of Radford University. He is currently completing the masters of public administration degree at Virginia Tech. His professional life includes commitment to several professional organizations and recognitions of achievement, including selection in the Political Leadership Program of the University of Virginia’s prestigious Sorensen Institute.
Shawn is married to Ann Margaret Gatchel Utt, a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and a teacher at Dublin Middle School.