The termination of Dan Beach as executive director of Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship surprised many, but no one more so than Dan Beach.
“It was hurtful to me,” said Beach, who was hired two years ago. “There are so many things we’re in the middle of.”
Election night, he was told he was being let go effective immediately by Scott Hathcock, the new chief executive officer of Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET).
Beach said the only reason he was given was that NACET was streamlining management.
The City of Maricopa has a contract with NACET to operate the business incubator program known as MCE. It provides resources for start-up small business in Maricopa.
In October, the contract was renewed on a unanimous vote by the city council, with Maricopa investing $200,000. Also in October, NACET hired Hathcock as its CEO.
City Hall was apparently not informed ahead of time about the decision to terminate Beach.
“It was a surprise to us,” said Dorothy Wolden, economic development specialist with the city.
She said city staff was told Hathcock would be in town but did not know the nature of the visit. Wolden said NACET reached out earlier to inform Maricopa of the implementation of a new program.
“They haven’t done anything outside the contract,” Wolden said. “We would have preferred to be informed ahead of time.”
Hathcock was not available for comment.
“This is my reputation,” Beach said. “I’ve worked hard and we’ve done a phenomenal job here. I love Maricopa. It’s an incredible, awesome place.”
Beach himself told the city what happened in his meeting with Hancock Tuesday afternoon.
Two important events involving MCE this month are Maricopa Shark Tank on Monday and Maricopa Marketplace on Nov. 26.
“It will be business as usual as much as possible,” Wolden said. “We understand there’s some uncertainty.”
Her understanding is that Christine K. Bailey, executive director of NACET’s Chandler office, will be brought into the Maricopa office part-time. The structure of MCE is expected to be more clearly laid out on Monday.
After the contract was renewed in October, some residents and council members raised questions about MCE’s services and accomplishments. That resulted in a Nov. 2 report compiled by the city Economic Development Department and MCE.
The report, which was not given to NACET, expanded on information Beach gave in his presentation before the council approved the contract. It included a June executive report breakdown of MCE’s activities.
That data showed 78 clients, four of which are resident clients, and 80 prospective clients. Wolden said questions were raised about how the agreement with NACET was structured. Residents also asked about details on accountability.
Wolden said the new program to be implemented by NACET will have a “more measurable matrix.”
The contract with NACET does not give the city involvement in the hiring and firing process of directors. Wolden said city staff is watchful of program changes and whether they fit into Maricopa’s vision of its business incubator.
“Maricopa businesses don’t have access to a lot of resources. That was the catalyst for the creation of MCE,” Wolden said. “It’s been the go-to place for small businesses.”