COULD the successor to one of the most influential figures in the East of England business community be running a Huntingdonshire company? With the impending departure of Richard Ellis as chairman of the East of England Development Agency, an exciting opportunity awaits one regional business leader, as the recruitment drive to find his replacement gets under way. EEDA said prospective candidates would need to have high-level skills in business, leadership and advocacy. "With a passion to improve the economy of the second-largest region in the UK, the new chairman should live or work in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk or Suffolk. The closing date for applications is July 13." Mr Ellis, who has been EEDA's chairman since 2003, is standing down early next year because of work and family commitments. Two board members, Karen Livingstone, who has the trade union portfolio, and Professor Tim Wilson, who represents the education sector, are coming to the end of their terms of office in December. Recruitment for their replacements started last week, with a closing date of 3 July. EEDA chief executive Deborah Cadman said: "These posts are unique opportunities to play an important and essential role in the strategic economic development of the East of England and the UK as a whole. "We all need to prepare for the economic upturn by ensuring we have innovative businesses, a skilled workforce and thriving communities, so that our towns and cities can compete successfully in the global marketplace. "Like Richard, the new chair of EEDA will need to have extremely strong business and leadership credentials and a real commitment and passion for the region. Mr Ellis encouraged business people to consider seriously applying for the post of chairman. He said: "Being chair involves a significant commitment and the role is both challenging and very rewarding. The six years I have been chair of EEDA have been a huge personal development experience for me and I continue to thoroughly enjoy meeting dedicated and committed people who work to improve the economy of the region. "I have been given the opportunity to influence the Government's decision-making process, with EEDA acting as a lynchpin between national policy and local implementation. "This opportunity is open to very few people and I encourage experienced and influential business people who live or work in the region to consider applying.