QUESTION: Aric V. Geda, who unsuccessfully ran to unseat Haw River’s incumbent mayor, Kelly Allen, earlier this month claims to serve as a technical advisor to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina; as a member of the Economic Development Association; and as a technical advisor to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Did Geda misrepresent his experience in order to boost his chance of winning the mayor’s race? Did he actually graduate from Michigan Technological University, where he said he earned a degree in engineering?
ANSWER: Geda appears to be something of a ghost when it comes to his involvement with the three organizations – which work to support economic development throughout the state – that he had listed in the “organizations” section of a candidate’s bio he submitted for the October 26 edition of The Alamance News.
And the top executive for one of the state’s three top-ranking economic development organizations says two technical advisor roles that Geda listed don’t even exist.
Liz Dobbins-Smith, executive director of the N.C. Economic Development Association (NCEDA), said in an interview Friday that Geda is “definitely not a member of her organization,” which she explained is a trade association “for colleagues around the state who are [involved] in economic development.”
Dobbins-Smith told the newspaper that she’s been a member of the NCEDA for the past 20 years and managing director for the organization since 2017 but had never heard of Geda. She said she’d also reached out to her counterpart with the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, CEO Christopher (“Chris”) Chung, asking, “Is this guy involved with you all?”
Chung – whose efforts to recruit high-profile industries such as Toyota and VinFast to North Carolina have brought him state and national acclaim – replied that he had “no idea” who Geda is, Dobbins-Smith said of her exchange.
After that head-scratcher, Dobbins-Smith said she got up with some of her contacts in the state commerce department, who also told her they’d never heard of Geda, she recalled in the interview.
“He said he was a technical advisor” for the commerce department and the EDPNC, Dobbins-Smith recalled. “That’s not even a thing; [Chung] said that’s not even a volunteer position.
“This is not okay for people to do,” the executive director of the economic development association added. “He obviously did it to give himself credibility, and it was a total lie.”
On his candidate’s bio for the newspaper, Geda described himself as a self-employed consulting engineer with Modulus, PLLC, a civil engineering firm based in Oak Ridge in Guilford County.
The newspaper attempted to inquire with Geda about the alleged misrepresentation of his public service experience, and to ask whether he had, in fact, graduated from Michigan Technological University. In over a week, had not responded to a reporter’s phone call by this week’s press deadline.
Meanwhile, Allen won a second term as mayor of Haw River in the November 7 municipal general election, with 73.62 percent of the vote (187 votes); Geda received 26.38 percent of the vote (67 votes), according to unofficial Election Night results.
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