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Virginia Beach Deputy City Manager Doug Smith’s last day with the city is Friday and he will utilize the experience he gained from working on public-private projects in his next career move – creating his own private consulting firm.
After two years of service with the City of Virginia Beach, Smith is mapping out a new career path, one that will involve more ownership and less of a time commitment, he said. Before joining the city in 2014, Smith served as president and CEO of Kaufman & Canoles Consulting LLC, and also as Portsmouth’s deputy city manager, among other roles. Smith is well poised for this career move because of his experience in the public and private sectors, he said.
“I think I have the ability to bring an understanding from both sides,” Smith said in an interview.
His new firm, The Doug Smith Group, is planned to open in mid-September and will include only Smith in the beginning.
“I’m really excited about it,” Smith said. “It’s a little exciting and a little scary – but that’s a little bit of what makes it fun.”
The new business career would mean more flexibility and personal time than he is able to carve out in his current position, he said. In the past 700-plus days with the city, Smith worked closely with city officials, including city council members, City Manager Dave Hansen and Director of Finance Patricia Phillips. For some projects, like the arena and the city’s gap funding evaluation, Smith functioned as a liaison between the city and private developers.
“We are all very sad to see him go and wish him the best of luck,” Phillips said in a phone interview. “He provided a lot of leadership and a lot of organization to issues, and we will miss that.”
Smith said working on the planned arena project specifically provided him valuable insight he could use in the future. The planned $210 million Oceanfront arena includes a developer investment of $40 million and a city investment of $76.5 million in public infrastructure outside the arena.
“Certainly, the arena is a very unique model,” Smith said. “I think I learned a lot from that specific project.”
Though he is looking forward to beginning his own private consulting firm, Smith looks back positively on his time as deputy city manager and the employees he worked with, he said.
“It really is with some mixed emotion that I leave,” he said. “What I’ll look back on most favorably are the real friends I made.”
Correction: A previous version of this story stated Smith's new business would be named Doug Smith Consulting Firm.