CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The man who led the Cedar Rapids non-profit that went bust after sponsoring the NewBo Evolve Festival last summer now has a similar job in another community.
Aaron McCreight was the Executive Director of Go Cedar Rapids. Under his leadership, Newbo Evolve lost $2.3 million and left many vendors unpaid.
NewBo Evolve cost taxpayers alone $500,000 after the City issued a line of credit to the group.
In the end, the event was a financial flop and went way over budget. Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart and the Chairman of Go Cedar Rapids would later accuse McCreight of deceiving the board about ticket sales and sponsorships.
McCreight has not only found a new job since his departure from Go Cedar Rapids but it comes with it the same title he had in Iowa.
McCreight's new position is the Executive Director of the Dothan Alabama Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was hired it turns out there just days after he lost his job in Iowa.
McCreight denies the claims by some city leaders that he deceived people and even in his new role he is also standing behind the job he did to help to organize Newbo Evolve.
In an interview with KCRG-TV9 sister station, WTVY-TV, McCreight said that they had "put on a great show" and he blamed the event's financial problems on not enough people coming out.
"One bad weekend can drive a lot of negative press and comments, but you know you got broad shoulders and you get through it knowing you did the best you could do," said McCreight.
McCreight's new boss is also weighing in on his new hire, and he says, in his view, McCreight has been unfairly made a scapegoat in Iowa because of NewBo Evolve's failure.
“The city, Go Cedar Rapids, and downtown were all on board (with the festival). It was not just one, two or three people, it was a multitude of people and organizations but a few people's heads had to roll and we feel like their loss is Dothan's gain,” said Visit Dothan Chairman Bill Durden.
I9 stopped by Tuesday's Cedar Rapids city council meeting to ask Mayor Brad Hart, who is among those that have been critical of McCreight in the past, for an on-camera interview about this latest development. While Hart did tell us he was not aware of McCreight's new job, he also refused to take part in an interview.
Hart explained off-camera that he would only talk if TV9 gave him the questions we had for him in advance. While I9 did explain to the mayor what our story was about, TV9 explained its policy to not give out planned questions before an interview. The mayor found that to be unacceptable and told us to submit our inquires to him in writing, which we did.
Through the city's communications director, Maria Johnson, Hart issued the following written statement that says, "The city will not provide an interview or statement regarding Aaron McCreight. Any information about the event and its impact on the community has been discussed with media previously, so there is no need for additional comment on the subject."
I9 invited every member of the city council and City Manager Jeff Pomeranz to issue a statement of their own if they wished but none have responded.
Officials with the Dothan Convention and Visitors Bureau say they chose to hire McCreight after reviewing nearly 100 applications.