Purvis looks to future, city growth as he takes manager’s reins

Chris Berendt Staff Writer

November 8, 2013

Shawn Purvis, officially announced as Clinton’s new city manager Wednesday night, said he looks forward to the growth that awaits the city as it prepares for large infrastructure projects, a massive N.C. 24 project and potential industrial prospects coming to town.

Purvis has served as the interim city manager since May, taking that spot when former manager John Connet accepted the manager’s position in Hendersonville. Purvis began his career with the city of Clinton in May 2008 as the assistant city manager and also assumed the role of finance officer in January 2011. On Wednesday night, and following a months-long search process, the City Council met in closed session and made the hire official.

Purvis’ new position comes with an annual salary of $87,000.

“Shawn has done well with the city over the past five years. The City Council felt very comfortable with him as the interim manager and have confidence that he can fill the manager’s role permanently,” said Mayor Lew Starling. “We believe he will continue to help us keep the city moving in a positive direction.”

Purvis beat out more than 40 other applicants for the job. Executive search firm Springsted was hired in May to assist with the recruitment and selection of a new city manager. Over the past five months, applications were reviewed, potential managers were screened and interviewed, and the list narrowed.

“After doing this in the interim for the last five months, I’ve had a very good working relationship with the staff and the Council,” Purvis said following his hire. “To get the final nod, it is reassuring that they have the confidence in me, and I don’t want to let them down.”

During his time with the city, Purvis has overseen the Recreation, Fire and Finance/Human Resource departments. He has been responsible for coordinating the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) projects, which have provided water and sewer service, as well as housing rehabilitation, for several Clinton-area neighborhoods.

Additionally, Purvis has been responsible for developing the city’s annual budget and capital improvement program, for which the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has awarded the city its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award every year since 2010.

Purvis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to coming to Clinton, Purvis served as a research assistant with the North Carolina League of Municipalities and a management intern with the Town of Hillsborough.

In easing into the permanent manager’s position, Purvis said the city is beginning a busy time over the next several years that will see large water and sewer projects — a water plant expansion chief among them — as well as needed infrastructure improvements leading up to the N.C. 24 widening project down Sunset Avenue.

Purvis said the N.C. 24 project is huge, and the city will continue preparations for its impact in potential growth and economic development, all while continuing to eye potential improvements in and around an already-revitalized downtown.

“I look forward to serving in the city manager role and I am sincerely appreciative of the opportunity Mayor Starling and the City Council have afforded me,” Purvis said. “Over the past five years, my family and I have enjoyed calling Clinton home. I’m excited about the opportunity and certainly thrilled the City Council has put this confidence in me.”

While he has served in the interim capacity for five months, Purvis said there are certain organizational and internal planning aspects of the job that will be made smoother because of his transition into the permanent position.

“It will be a little easier … I didn’t want to start something and have a new manager come in and it’s not their style,” said Purvis. “That pressure is taken off.”

Purvis and wife Sara are both originally from Wilmington, but have made a home in Clinton. They have two children, twins Joshua and Anna. Purvis said he is happy to continue to call Clinton home, while helping to move it forward into a bigger, brighter future.

“Clinton has been great to my family over the last five years,” said Purvis, crediting the community, staff and city officials. “It’s been a great hometown and it become a greater hometown — and we want to make sure it continues to be a place people want to live and work.”

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at