COLUMBIA — Five weeks ago Greg Williams got a phone call from a job search company. Today he is the new director of University of Missouri System research parks.
Williams is now responsible for developing the 10 university research parks and incubators across Missouri. He will be working closely with tenants to negotiate leases and nurture existing relationships.
The interview process moved fairly quickly, Williams said. He met with Mike Nichols, vice president of research and economic development; UM System President Gary Forsee; and about 12 to 15 members of the system and business volunteers.
"The value is not in the dirt, it's in the reputation," Williams said about the research parks. "It's in the system, the talents, the expertise and innovation."
Williams said the opportunity to work with the UM System on different campuses was appealing to him. The fact that he would be moving back to central Missouri near family was an added bonus.
"Next thing I knew, Mike Nichols was on the phone offering me the job," Williams said.
Williams was the senior vice president for economic development for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. His involvement in multiple organizations such as the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has allowed him to develop relationships across Missouri.
Nichols said Williams' networking throughout the state helped him stand out as a worthy candidate.
"He's a deal maker. He makes deals. He gets things done," Nichols said.
Nichols said the research parks will help new businesses and create more jobs, but Williams emphasized that reaching out to new tenants is equally important to maintaining positive relationships with existing tenants. He also plans to focus on expansion and development opportunities.
"I'm ready to hit the ground running," he said.