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Opportunity Austin names Ed Latson as first chief executive officer

Latson will assume role as CEO effective October 21

Today, Opportunity Austin the economic development organization aimed at fostering job-creating investment in the five-county Central Texas region announced Ed Latson, currently chief executive officer of The Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, as the organization’s first full-time CEO. The hiring is effective October 21.

“Ed’s passion and deep commitment to the Austin region, coupled with his success at ARMA, undoubtedly makes him the right choice for CEO,” Gary Farmer, interim CEO and chairman of Opportunity Austin, said. “Opportunity Austin has helped shape the Austin region into one of the greatest economic development success stories of the past half-century, and we need a leader to keep that momentum going for future generations. I look forward to supporting Ed’s efforts as he further develops and advances the organization.”

As CEO, Latson will preside over the organization’s 5.0 plan and a budget nearing $35 million. The recently unveiled strategy includes four key priority areas for the greater Austin region, enhancing economic resilience, connecting to global markets, filling the talent pipeline and improving quality of life. Latson will also oversee the day-to-day operations of OA and manage a staff of 16 employees.

“This is an important moment for the organization and region,” Latson said. “I am honored to be named CEO and am grateful to the board for entrusting me with this role. I look forward to working closely with our investors, regional partners and stakeholders to ensure the Austin area remains a leading economic force.”

OA’s CEO search was led by OA board member and partner at Locke Lord, Brian Cassidy, and included regional community leaders Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell and Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden in addition to several other business leaders. The position yielded more than 700 applications. Following its due diligence and interview process, the search committee recommended Latson to the OA executive board, which approved the recommendation and chose to hire Latson.

“Our goal as a search committee was to find candidates that understood Opportunity Austin’s past, the challenges our region faces and who would help maintain and expand the Central Texas region as a leading market for investment and job creation,” Cassidy said. “We received a wealth of candidates which further underscores that the region is the place to be. We are confident Ed will continue to position Opportunity Austin on the global stage.”

Latson has over 15 years of experience as a leader and advocate for businesses with an emphasis on Central Texas manufacturing. He founded and launched ARMA, a business group dedicated to strengthening the regional manufacturing community through advocacy, workforce development and networking. Latson is also a member of Governor Abbott’s Semiconductor Taskforce and is an active board member for organizations that include United Way, Junior Achievement, the Capital Area Economic Development District and Austin Community College, among others. Latson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history and philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin.

Additional quotes for attribution:

Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden – “Selecting Ed Latson as Opportunity Austin’s first CEO is an exciting moment for the organization. As a member of the search committee, we knew that the organization’s leader needed to have a strong understanding that the success of Opportunity Austin and the path toward continued success will require a regional approach. I look forward to another exceptional and productive partnership with Opportunity Austin and Ed Latson as their leader.”

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell – “This hiring marks a pivotal moment for Opportunity Austin. We are proud to have found someone that embodies the leadership qualities we were looking for and offers a new perspective for the organization. We are confident that Ed will bring the passion, strategic thinking and vision that will be critical to guiding Opportunity Austin through this next chapter.”