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Tom Higgins, Former CEO of Best Western, Now in Charge
 of a Ministry Complex and Convention Center
 in High Point, North Carolina

By Nick George Maheras, High Point Enterprise, N.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Jun. 23, 2005 - HIGH POINT -- It's a long way from Phoenix. And from the top job at one of the world's largest corporations.

Tom Higgins, though, says he loves where he has landed -- as chief operating officer of Providence Place.

In August 2004, Higgins decided he wanted a different kind of life, so he did not renew his contract as president and chief executive officer of Phoenix-based Best Western International, the world's largest hotel chain.

In 2002, he had left the similarly high-powered post of president and chief executive officer of Days Inn, based in Parsippany, N.J.

"You can get to a place in your career when you go home at night and ask yourself: 'What did I do that was meaningful?'" he said. "The next penny per share wasn't as important as it once was."

Higgins had embarked on his own search for significance.

At age 57, he believes he has found it at First Wesleyan Church's ministry, retail and convention center complex on Westchester Drive.

"It was a career move for significance, having your talents mean something," he said. "Money, power, prestige begins to move down certain people's priority list after a while."

Although Higgins took a massive pay cut, he's philosophical about it.

"You take a look at the things that mean something," he said. "I don't need a lot of money to be happy at this point in my life."

He is excited, though, about the challenge of transforming Providence Place into a high-profile, profitable ministry complex and convention center that boasts state-of-the-art facilities.

"We have excellent potential," he said. "We're talking conventions, individual company meetings, association meetings and exhibition space. We could literally have Broadway productions on our stage."


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Copyright (c) 2005, High Point Enterprise, N.C.

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