GALLATIN, TN – After more than a decade of spearheading economic development initiatives as the Executive Director of the Gallatin Economic Development Agency (GEDA), James Fenton has announced his departure from public service to work with VantagePointe Investments. His last day in office is scheduled for Friday, March 1.
Having assumed the role in June 2012, James Fenton leaves behind a remarkable legacy of economic development achievements, including six years in Cheatham County. Recognized as the TEDC Economic Development Professional of the Year in 2021, Fenton played a pivotal role in attracting notable businesses to Gallatin, including Beretta USA, Meta, D&S Industries, TwentyThree, and overseeing significant expansions at Gap Inc. and Simpson Strong Tie.
“I am very grateful for the work that James and our Economic Development Agency have executed during his time with Gallatin. His impact on Gallatin is very visible with companies like Beretta and Meta choosing our city, as well as in the expansions of many of our existing industries,” Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown said. “He has been a key element in communicating Gallatin as an attractive place to work and live and has built our reputation as a great city for business.”
Upon joining the City of Gallatin, Fenton faced the task of filling the expansive 200+ acre Industrial Center Phase 2, a challenge he met with success, recruiting eight businesses to locate in the development. Throughout his leadership, Gallatin benefited from the addition of over 5,000 new jobs and nearly $1.5 billion in capital investment.
“James has worked tirelessly to grow business interest in our community, elevating Gallatin's brand not just nationally, but internationally,” GEDA Board Chairman Tim Hertel said. “By successfully recruiting some of the world's most recognized brands, James has diversified our city’s economic base and positioned Gallatin for continued growth.“
Fenton's strengths stretched far beyond corporate recruitment. He helped secure multiple state and federal grants, totaling millions of dollars, for road improvements, infrastructure enhancements, and a daycare facility. His creation of the Gallatin Government Institute and execution of multiple public outreach campaigns allowed Gallatin to receive notable recognition regionally, nationally and internationally.
“It has been an absolute honor to serve Gallatin over the past decade,” GEDA Executive Director James Fenton said. ”I am grateful for the support and collaborative efforts of the business community and elected leaders, which have helped propel this community to historic heights. The achievements we've made together will always hold a special place in my heart, and I look forward to seeing Gallatin's continued economic success.”
Fenton plans to stay close to economic development and will take on a new role overseeing a mixed use development in Middle Tennessee. His departure marks only the third transition in leadership since the agency's formation in 1999. Looking ahead, the GEDA Board plans to engage an executive search firm to find a replacement.