Palm Beach County administrator LaRocque resigns

Assistant County Administrator Shannon LaRocque

Shannon LaRocque, assistant Palm Beach County administrator for more than a decade and a finalist for the top spot last year, has resigned, she confirmed Tuesday morning.

“There’s a letter being distributed,” LaRocque said outside Tuesday’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting. She said she did not want to elaborate.

LaRocque’s two paragraph resignation letter, dated today, does not say why she’s leaving or where she’s going. It said her last day will be Sept. 29.

“I will miss my job and the incredible people I have had the pleasure of working with throughout the years,” LaRocque wrote. “I sincerely appreciate the opportunity my position with the county has provided me over the last 11 years.”

When she was a candidate last year to replace County Administrator Bob Weisman, LaRocque — who has nearly three decades of work experience in the public and private sector — submitted a fat package of at least 41 endorsements, many from firms and individuals that do business with the county. The county ultimately selected Deputy County Administrator Verdenia Baker.

LaRocque was acting executive director of Palm Tran since late January 2014, when Chuck Cohen, executive director for nearly a decade, was demoted to deputy director after chronic complaints about Palm Tran Connection, the county’s bus service for the sick and elderly. In October 2015, she hired Clinton Forbes, head of the bus agency in Columbus, Ohio.

LaRocque also oversaw the county’s utilities department, which in 2013 dissolved the financially strapped Glades Utility Authority. The authority hit some of the county’s poorest residents with some of its highest water and sewer rates. The county has since modified rates.

And LaRocque is credited with finessing the search for the developer of the private hotel adjacent to the Palm Beach County Convention Center. She demurred on a formal “request for proposals,” opting instead for a “request for qualifications,” which gave the county more room to tell suitors what it wanted. That led to the 2010 selection of the Related Group. The hotel opened in January.

She also won the 2014 Athena Award from the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, which recognizes women in leadership.

Palm Beach County gets $1m USDA small business grant

Untitled-1Palm Beach County’s Department of Economic Sustainability has received a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide low-interest loans to small emerging businesses in rural parts of the county.

Palm Beach County was one of just six local governments, and the only one in Florida, to get the grant from the USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program, Assistant County Administrator Shannon LaRocque told commissioners Tuesday in an email.

She said the county’s sustainability department has given low-interest loans to 32 local small businesses, resulting in the creation of about 1,540 local jobs over the last five years.