The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's public-private economic development partnership, passed over PortMiami Director Bill Johnson to be its new president and chief executive officer, instead selecting economic development professional Larry K. Williams.
Johnson applied for the Beacon Council's leadership vacancy. His experience developing the port into an attractive destination for container and cruise lines to create local jobs was considered a natural fit and as one of the top administrators in Miami-Dade government who was thought to have the backing of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Johnson appeared to be the front runner for the Beacon job.
In fact, the transition appeared all but a done deal when in early May Deputy Port Director Juan Kuryla turned down an offer to be the executive director of the Jacksonville Port Authority for what was by Jacksonville's search firm as a better offer from Miami. The Miami Herald
reported that Gimenez approved a $120,000 raise to keep Kuryla and named him "seaport director designee, with a salary slightly more than Johnson's $263,000 yearly pay.
Johnson will remain PortMiami's director for the foreseeable future.
"He's our director. He plans on staying," Paula Musto, director of public affairs at the Port of Miami, said.
Williams, 49, has an excellent track record of attracting businesses to locate in communities where he has worked, the Beacon Council said. He currently is vice president of technology industry development for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Before that he was assistant director of international trade and economic development for the Washington State Department of Commerce, and rose through the ranks to director of of operations of the international trade division for the North Carolina Department of Commerce. - Eric Kulisch