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Pensacola’s Downtown Improvement Board has a new executive director. Curt Morse, who was selected as the DIB’s top staffer last month, stepped in to the new role last week.

Morse replaces former director Ron Butlin, who announced his resignation in August, citing family health issues.

New DIB director Curt Morse. (Downtown Improvement Board/Special to The Pulse)

New DIB director Curt Morse. (Downtown Improvement Board/Special to The Pulse)

The five-member board selected Morse from among a pool of nearly 200 applicants and five finalists. A Pensacola resident since 2004, Morse is somewhat of a departure from the past two DIB directors, both of whom were recruited from downtown agencies in other cities.

“Coming here in the wake of a disaster like Ivan really showed me what this community was made of,” Morse said Wednesday. “People here help their neighbors. They work hard, and they never give up. I decided that was the sort of community I wanted to call home. In the years since, I’ve been thrilled to watch Downtown Pensacola continue to evolve to become the vibrant, inviting place it is today, and I’m honored to have the chance to help lead us into an even brighter future.”

An agency of the City of Pensacola, the DIB was established by the Florida Legislature in 1974 to remove blight and guide downtown redevelopment. The agency oversees a 44-block special taxing district which assesses an extra 2 mils on property owners each year.

Morse comes to the DIB after an eclectic career in sales, marketing and executive leadership — including stints in the equestrian and boatbuilding industries.

In 2007, Morse achieved national recognition after reviving the fortunes of iconic boat builder Caribiana Sea Skiffs. The brand’s custom-made boats have been featured in Forbes, Garden & Gun, and other publications, but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the business was floundering on the brink of collapse. Morse, a long-time fan, bought the company and relocated it to Pensacola.

More recently, Morse has served as a regional manager for a chain of portable storage facilities. He is also active in the community, having served on the boards of Fiesta of Five Flags, Keep Pensacola Beautiful, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida, among other organizations.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Curt as our new executive director,” DIB Chairman John Peacock said Wednesday. “Downtown Pensacola is at a real turning point, with a lot of great things on the horizon, and I’m confident Curt possesses the vision, drive and collaborative mentality to lead us into this next period of growth. We’re just getting started.”

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