The chief financial officer of the Charlotte Regional Partnership has departed after an audit found “sloppy accounting” at the economic development group, CEO Ronnie Bryant said Monday.
Melissa Hendrick left the partnership June 30, and the group plans to outsource accounting functions going forward, Bryant said. The auditors found no money missing, he said.
“There were some issues regarding what I would call sloppy accounting,” Bryant told the Observer. “We did a full five-year audit in an effort to ensure that there were no funds missing. It’s s just a matter of untimely deposits and some other accounting issues that were just not timely.”
When reached by the Observer, Hendrick declined to comment. Bryant called the departure a “mutual separation.”
The group paid Hendrick $132,325 in total compensation in 2015, according to its most recent 990 filing with the IRS. Bryant would not say whether she received any severance as part of her departure.
Accounting firm Elliott Davis Decosimo handled the audit, he said. A representative of the firm could not immediately be reached.
Hendrick’s departure came shortly before another key official is set to leave the group, which is charged with marketing Mecklenburg and 15 other area counties to companies looking to expand or bring new operations to the region. Vanessa Goeschl, senior vice president for economic development, has resigned, effective Friday.
Bryant said Goeschl’s departure was not related to the accounting issues and that the partnership plans to fill the position. Goeschl joined the organization in 2003 as director of research and now oversees all economic development activity.
“She has done a great job for us,” Bryant said. “In her own words, she said it was time for a change.”
In an email to the Observer, Goeschl reiterated that her decision was driven by a need for change after 14 years at the partnership. “I am considering opportunities both in and outside the region that will allow me to build on the success I’ve had here and continue to grow as an economic development professional,” she said.
The partnership’s board chairman, BB&T executive Wes Beckner, declined to comment on the staff changes. In another change, public relations and marketing firm Branstorm stopped representing the partnership on June 30, said President Colleen Brannan.
According to the partnership’s most recent 990 filing, the group saw its total revenue more than double in 2015 to $2.1 million. It posted an $81,247 surplus, an improvement from a deficit of $139,848 the year before.
The organization lost funds when the state shifted money away from regional partnerships to the newly created Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina in 2014. But Bryant has said the partnership was able to make up what it lost in state revenue with private investment.
The partnership’s contributors include public entities such as the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County as well as private companies such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, according to the 990 filing.
In the past year, the group has been working with the Charlotte Chamber on a strategic plan to better collaborate on recruiting companies to the area.