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Retired WPCOG executive dies

Retired WPCOG executive dies


Doug Taylor is shown at the WPCOG office in 2008.

R. Douglas "Doug" Taylor, retired executive director of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, died Thursday after a period of declining health. He was 79.

Taylor served at the WPCOG for 37 years and was its executive director for 36 years until his retirement in 2008. He was the first full-time executive director of the WPCOG, a nonprofit organization that provides long-range planning and technical assistance to local governments.

Current Executive Director Anthony Starr said Taylor's legacy is profound within the organization and the region.

"He dedicated much of his life to assisting local governments and improving the lives of residents in the communities throughout our region," Starr said.

"His name isn’t on any buildings in our cities, but his mark on our communities is everywhere.”

Dee Blackwell, who worked at the WPCOG for 40 years during Taylor's tenure and succeeded him as the executive director in 2008, said Taylor was an effective leader.

“He did what he said he was going to do. He expected you to do what you said you were going to do. He was consistently patient," Blackwell said.

Retired Public Services Director and Assistant Executive Director Jim Chandler served at the WPCOG for more than 30 years under Taylor's leadership.

“I will forever be thankful for the opportunity Doug gave me to join the staff of WPCOG," Chandler said. "His leadership instilled in me and many others the importance of working together for the good of our region.”

The WPCOG board, staff, and representatives of local governments of the region extended sympathy to Taylor's wife, Hickory attorney Terry M. Taylor, his children, and the rest of the family.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funeral service will be private. A public memorial will be planned in the future.

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During Taylor's career at WPCOG, he:

• Oversaw the development of the WPCOG from one employee in 1970 to 43 employees upon his retirement in 2008. He was the facilitator and leader for getting the local governments in the four-county area to look at themselves as a real geographic and economic region.

• Served as the central point for coordinating local government issues and problem-solving.

• Wrote or led the development of hundreds of grants for local communities that totaled several hundred million dollars that leveraged local and private investment for infrastructure, housing, economic development and job creation.

• Began the first transportation plan for the region and established the WPCOG as a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to oversee transportation planning for the region. WPCOG was the first COG in the state to serve as an MPO.

• Organized the first regular meetings of county and municipal elected officials and city and county managers to promote cooperation and collaboration between local governments.

• Managed the first regional park study.

• Worked to start the Local Assistance Planner program with multiple local governments to guide their growth and development.

• Established the WPCOG as a public housing authority.

• Helped establish the first transit system (Piedmont Wagon) in the region.

• Led the formation of a federally designated HOME Consortium for the region, which provides funding for affordable housing throughout the region.

• Oversaw the formation of the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board as part of the WPCOG. The program provides job seeking and training assistance and assistance to employers seeking talent for open positions.

• Oversaw the creation of the Area Agency on Aging to assist older adults in our region with a range of services.

John Dayberry is the community news edition at the Hickory Daily Record.

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