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44 - Economic Development and Developers in the News

Econ dev news from 62 economic development executives and organizations in 28 states and Canada.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
16 min read
44 - Economic Development and Developers in the News
Photo by Marcel Strauß / Unsplash

Welcome to the 44th weekly edition of Economic Development and Developers in the News.

Today's issue contains economic development news from 62 economic development executives and organizations in 28 states and Canada.


California

Soua Vang is the new Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Glendale.

South San Francisco has a new director of the Economic and Community Development Department, Nell Selander, who joined the city as deputy director in 2017. Selander previously worked for the city of San Carlos where she was the Economic Development and Housing manager. Prior to that, she worked for the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation.

The Solano Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday the hiring of Chris Rico as its President/CEO. Rico previously led the Center for Innovation at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and the center’s work with the Digital Media and Entertainment industries.

Canada

Stronger together is the goal of a new economic development initiative between Saugeen First Nation #29 and the Town of Saugeen Shores whose joint application to the First Nations – Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative was accepted.  The Town’s economic development officer Heather Hyde noted that the three-year application is just one of eight across Canada accepted for this phase of programming to improve the economic prosperity of SFN and the Town through joint community economic development planning and initiatives.

East Gwillimbury launched its economic development strategy earlier this month. (Margot Bégin, director of economic development)

The International Economic Development Council has recognized the South Island Prosperity Partnership for its role in paving the way to recovery out of the worst of the pandemic. The partnership, the region’s economic development agency, received two gold awards and one silver award for initiatives in 2020 designed to strengthen the region’s economy and accelerate recovery. “The awards are a recognition of our entire region’s innovative, collaborative response to the pandemic,” said SIPP chief executive Emilie de Rosenroll.

Colorado

The Rangely’s Town Board of Trustees heard a public introduction from from economic developer Christine Rambo. She is working in the tri-county area of Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties to evaluate the tri-county region’s strengths, opportunities and identify any concerns to ensure a prosperous future.

Georgia

Reporter Newspapers talked to Dunwoody’s Economic Development Director Michael Starling about the boom of new business in the Atlanta suburb.

Johns Creek has hired a new economic development director to help the city attract new businesses and jobs. Randall Toussaint will oversee initiatives intended to position the city as a place for quality, sustainable business investment. Toussaint has more than a decade of experience in planning and economic development and previously served as director of economic development for Partnership Gwinnett.

Illinois

Winnebago County Board has an open seat for District 20. Board Member Jas Bilich formally resigned on Friday to accept a position with the county’s Regional Planning & Economic Development Department. Bilich has served on the board since 2018. His term was set to expire later this year. He has also served as Chairman of the Economic Development Committee for the last two years. Bilich is required to resign from the board to begin working for the County as a Special Project Coordinator, a trade he says he’s willing to make.

Craig Rost, a long time economic development official in Champaign County, has died.

Indiana

Andy Maletta is the new executive director of the Portage Economic Development Corp. Maletta is no stranger to economic development, having previously served at PEDC from 2016 to 2019 while also working for the city of Portage.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has selected David Fredricks as director of the Office of Minority and Women Business Development. Fredricks most recently served as program manager for supplier diversity at the Indianapolis Airport Authority. Fredricks also previously served as a principal at Innovative Business Development LLC and held various positions at the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council, the Indiana Association for Community and Economic Development, and the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development.

Iowa

Warren County Economic Development is partnering with Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Economic Development Authority to complete a Laborshed Employment Study for the Warren County area. The study will geographically define which communities contribute to Warren County’s workforce, and measure the availability and characteristics of area workers. (Rachel Gocken, executive director)

The Charles City Area Development Corporation was named an Accredited Economic Development Organization by the International Economic Development Council.  Charles City is the 69th community in North America to receive the recognition. "This signifies that the Charles City Area Development Corporation has achieved excellence," Tim Fox, the Executive Director of the CCADC, said. "We should all take pride in this achievement."

Kentucky

The Department of Tourism announced that Livermore in McLean County has officially been certified as the commonwealth’s 25th Kentucky Trail Town. “Outdoor recreation is a major economic driver for both Kentucky and the United States,” said Mike Mangeot, commissioner of the Department of Tourism. The Kentucky Trail Town Program is a tourism and economic development program designed to provide a strategic plan for communities to capitalize on travel opportunities within a respective community. Each of Kentucky’s 25 trail towns has made the public commitment to share their outdoor opportunities, culture, history, and stories with guests hungry for adventure.

Louisiana

Louisiana State University has been designated as the new host organization for the Louisiana Small Business Development Center network, a statewide system that provides training and technical support to small businesses and entrepreneurs. The network, which consists of 10 regional offices across the state, is funded by Louisiana Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration. (Bill Joubert, director of the LSBDC at Southeastern Louisiana University)

Massachusetts

Chris McDermott is Mansfield’s first economic development director. He was hired in November.  Mansfield had a good mix of local downtown businesses, commercial retailers like in Mansfield Crossing and 120 companies in the town’s industrial park, McDermott said. “That mix… is what you want to find in a community,” he said. McDermott said he is particularly excited to work with the town’s biotech sector.

Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation today to announce three revitalization projects that will bring growth and vibrancy to two communities in West Michigan have received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The projects are expected to generate a total capital investment of $35.9 million, bringing new vitality and economic activity to downtown corridors in Grand Rapids and Hastings.  (Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of MEDC)

Last Friday, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove hosted a roundtable focused on the "Build What Matters" campaign and how innovation, manufacturing, and support for startups and small businesses tie directly to ongoing economic growth.

Michigan's leaders need to put aside political differences to create a consistent economic development strategy as the state is projected to fall further behind others in economic growth, according to Business Leaders for Michigan. The state's business roundtable on Thursday shared its annual benchmarking, which placed Michigan at 29th in economic growth of the 50 states after some revamped metrics that now include more measurements from education attainment to business climate perception to poverty. (Jeff Donofrio, the roundtable's CEO)

Muskegon County’s economic development organization is seeking new leadership as the firm continues a restructuring focused on attracting new corporate funders and coordinating strategic planning in communities. Business consultant and entrepreneur Jim Edmonson has led Greater Muskegon Economic Development as president and CEO under a short-term contract that’s set to expire in May.

The Ann Arbor City Council has approved the hiring of Jeffrey Watson as the city’s first new Downtown Development Authority director in over 25 years.The DDA board recently tapped the Dearborn official to replace Susan Pollay, who had served as Ann Arbor DDA executive director since 1996 before retiring in early 2021. The DDA set Watson’s annual base salary at $142,000, which City Council signed off on Tuesday night.

Minnesota

With broadband expansion opportunities continuing to be made available for communities in Kandiyohi County, Connie Schmoll, who has been working on a contract basis for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission since May 2021, doesn't want to leave her job undone. "It has been my honor and privilege to continue working on broadband," Schmoll said. "It is a necessary infrastructure and it is needed to continue economic development." The EDC's Joint Operations Board agreed at its meeting Thursday to extend Schmoll's contract for an additional three months, until the end of March. The contract extension will cost the EDC approximately $9,100. "I think this is worth every dime," said Aaron Backman, EDC executive director. Schmoll, who was the EDC's business development manager until her retirement in May 2021, has seen the workload connected to broadband grow over the past seven months.

Nort Johnson grew up a couple of blocks off Faribault's historic district. Back in the 1970s, downtown business in the Rice County city was thriving: flower shops and bakeries, a camera shop and a dress shop and three pharmacies, all in an idyllic, walkable downtown. But after Johnson graduated in 1982 and moved away, forces picked at Faribault's historic district. First it was shopping malls. Then came big-box stores closer to highways, which tried to capture every shopping dollar. When Johnson returned to his hometown 15 years ago, the historic district still had the bones of a nostalgic, thriving small town: the century-old buildings on the five-block strip. But to Johnson, something felt lacking. Not so today. Faribault's historic district serves as a model on moving a downtown strip into the future while paying homage to the past. "Downtown Faribault is such a great example of a district that's changing to fit the desires of folks who want experiential shopping, ethnic stores, entertainment, activities," said Johnson, the president and CEO of the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mississippi

The city of Clinton is about to give its downtown district a facelift. Olde Towne will be seeing some new shops and restaurants in just a few months.“The stronger the heart, the stronger the body. So, the stronger we can make the heart of the city, the better the city is,” Clinton Economic Development Director Daniel Lang said.

Montana

The Montevideo City Council recently made the decision to end their contract with CEDA, an organization that provided the City with a Community Development Coordinator, instead, deciding to hire the position in-house for the first time in years. At last week’s City Council meeting, the council announced the hiring of Jack Gottfried as the new Montevideo Community Development Coordinator. Gottfried officially started with the City on January 10th.

After COVID-19 and mandatory shutdowns and other response actions wreaked havoc on many residents and businesses in Butte and nearby areas in 2020, the recovery was strong in 2021. Real strong, especially when it comes to jobs. That was not only true in Butte-Silver Bow but in other counties in southwest Montana — Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Beaverhead, Granite, Jefferson, Madison and Powell. In April 2020, unemployment in the region hit an all-time high of 11.3%. Things got better later that year and according to newly compiled figures. (Joe Willauer, executive director of the Butte Local Development Corp.)

New Hampshire

Longtime city official Christopher Parker is taking on a new role as the city’s deputy city manager, tasked with responsibilities to oversee development and strategic initiatives across multiple departments. Parker, 47, was promoted from his longtime role as assistant city manager and director of planning. While some aspects of the job remain the same, he will hand over responsibilities within the planning department to gain new, more broad management roles and responsibilities.

Jada Lindblom is the new community and economic development field specialist at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension's Belknap County field office. Before gaining such a long title, Lindblom spent her post-college days roaming the American west working in a wide array of outdoor recreation, tourism, conservation and volunteer positions. After her long adventure, she's finally back in her home state of New Hampshire, and looks to use her experience to strengthen the Lakes Region's economic development and quality of life.

Mayor Joyce Craig has nominated Manchester senior planner Jodie Nazaka as the city's next economic development director. Her nomination will layover until the next Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1. The economic development director's position has been vacant since former director Melanie Sanuth resigned in October 2019. Nazaka has worked in the city's Planning and Community Development Department since 2015. Before coming to work for the city she was a Town Planner in Milford and an Environmental Planner at Inter-Science Research Associates.

New Mexico

Chad Matheson has joined Danielle Casey and the team at the Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance as their new VP of Economic Competitiveness.

New York

Two local economic development groups are among those receiving a total of $420,00 in federal funds through the Economic Development Administration. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced the funding, which is intended to develop and implement regional economic development strategies throughout New York. It will promote public-private partnerships to diversify and strengthen regional economies in New York. The Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board, which comprises eight counties, including Chenango, Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie, and the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, which includes Otsego and Schoharie counties, will each receive $70,000.

North Carolina

Natalie Hawkins, executive director of Moore County's economic development arm, Partners in Progress, said during a recent Moore County Board of Commissioners meeting that activity in nearby megasites is spurring interest in Moore County. "We have seen a lot of leads coming from the state that are suppliers of the Toyota plant that's going to locate just north of us," Hawkins said, referring to Toyota Motor Corp. planning a $1.29 billion battery manufacturing plant for the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite.

About half an hour’s drive southwest of downtown Raleigh is an unincorporated community in Chatham County with 780 residents. In 2022, it could attract one of the largest economic investments in North Carolina’s history. At 4.7 square miles in area, Moncure is easy to miss for passersby driving along U.S. Hwy. 1. But it boasts the state’s largest megasite — a broad tract of land exceeding 1,000 acres and “prepared to suit the needs of a future large-scale plant,” according to UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government. Moncure’s megasite, now called Triangle Innovation Point, sprawls across more than 2,150 acres. Its owners and the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation anticipate future tenants will create as many as 20,000 new jobs and suffuse surrounding areas with new residents. (Michael Smith, president of Chatham County EDC)

Even with complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenny Flowers says last year was historically successful for economic development in North Carolina. Flowers, assistant secretary for rural economic development at the N.C. Department of Commerce, said the state added 24,225 jobs through 185 business recruitment, expansion or rural development projects. Flowers delivered the positive report to local business leaders at the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Power in Partnership event on Thursday morning

North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders has named Jennifer Mundt, an experienced legislative analyst and policy executive, as the department’s Assistant Secretary of Clean Energy Economic Development, an important new role at the state’s lead agency for economic development.   Ms. Mundt will guide North Carolina’s efforts to secure economic development and workforce opportunities in the increasingly important clean energy industry sector, including development of the state’s resources for offshore wind energy.

Ohio

The Dayton Daily News hosted the Community Conversation live on its Facebook page on Wednesday with a panel of local experts to discuss the economic outlook for the region in 2022. Guests included: Whitney Barkley, director of the Greater West Dayton Incubator; Richard Stock, director of the Business Research Group at the University of Dayton; and Julie Sullivan, executive vice president of regional development for the Dayton Development Coalition.

Intel will invest more than $20 billion to build two computer chip plants in Ohio by 2025 in the state’s largest economic development deal to date and what will be the company’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing operation in the world, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced last Friday. “Ohio was built for this moment and this industry. Intel envisions building its future in Ohio because generations of visionary Ohioans built the ideal foundation — a great place to live and work combined with a spirit of dedication to excellence and pride in hard work,” JobsOhio president and CEO J.P. Nauseef said.

Bowling Green City Council is interested in revising a portion of the city’s master plan dealing with economic development. On Tuesday, council’s Finance Committee heard from Kati Thompson, director of Bowling Green Economic Development, who discussed a potential new draft of that section. The current, 14-page economic development section of the master plan was drafted in 1987, and had what committee chair Greg Robinette termed a “minor update” in the 1990s. Council listed an update to that section as one of their goals for 2022.

The Erie County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors conducted its first meeting of the new year and welcomed two new members. (Abbey Bemis, executive director)

The team at Valley Economic Development Partners reports another record-breaking year in 2021. Through SBA lending, partnering with the Mahoning County Board of Commissioners and various lending programs, Valley Partners processed and closed 914 loans and grants to support small businesses that are working through the pandemic. Valley Partners, formerly known as the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp., offers and facilitates a variety of loan programs to support small businesses. (Executive Director Teresa Miller)

The Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce will honor area businesses and individuals later this month as the organization’s 62nd annual awards celebration will be done virtually for the second year in a row. Steve Schillig, director of the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Kent State Tuscarawas, has been selected as this year’s “Hall of Fame” award recipient.

Oklahoma

The Lawton Economic Development Corporation is well over its annual goal of contacts with industries interested in the city — and the fiscal year is only half over. The economic entity has recorded 36 leads for the year that began July 1, 2021, responding to RFP and RFQs from industries eyeing Lawton-Fort Sill. “Our annual goal is 24,” said LEDC President Brad Cooksey, noting the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year is more than five months away.

Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf announced today that pet health and wellness company Spot & Tango has selected Pennsylvania as the location of its first manufacturing facility, creating close to 100 new jobs in Lehigh County. “Spot & Tango is the latest entry to the fast-growing food, beverage and pet food production market in the Lehigh Valley,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. “Animal and people food, along with beverages, is one of the fastest growing sectors of Lehigh Valley manufacturing. We are thrilled about this exciting new brand of pet food finding a home here in Lehigh Valley.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey appointed a new chief economic officer. Kyle Chintalapalli’s appointment is effective Jan. 31.

Members of the Trestle to Trestle Task Force met at the riverfront last summer to discuss developments in that area. There has been a percolating criticism that a boat launch along the Allegheny River in downtown Warren only stands to benefit a couple of businesses in the area. Jim Decker, President/CEO of the county’s lead economic development agency, the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry, won’t argue that the launch will provide “operational efficiencies” for Allegheny Outfitters. But is the characterization that the launch will only benefit riverfront businesses fair? “Absolutely not,” Decker said.

With years of work in economic development under his belt, Allentown’s new mayor, Matt Tuerk, knows there’s a lot more to the job than being the city’s cheerleader if he wants to attract business and investment to the area.

South Carolina

Mark Warner is filling a vacancy as a temporary contract economic development specialist for Abbeville County. Warner is taking on the responsibilities in addition to his work as McCormick County’s director of economic and community development.

Tennessee

The Johnson City Development Authority board of directors selected Patricia Oldham to serve as executive director of the organization, effective Feb. 7. “As a certified planner, Tish brings a deep background in land planning and urban affairs, along with project management, grant acquisition and administration, community board management, and economic development experience,” JCDA Board Chair Hank Carr said in a press release announcing the hiring.

Texas

City of Victoria Main Street Program Executive Director Danielle Williams has been named the head of the city's economic development.

Marichelle Samples is the new director of economic development for the city of Lewisville. Samples was most recently was the assistant city attorney in Dallas. She replaces Jason Moore, who resigned from the city of Lewisville in June.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson highlighted three big steps the city of Dallas has taken in economic development on Monday. Johnson first noted that the Dallas City Council unanimously approved the creation of a new Economic Development Corporation which will look to attract and grow businesses in the city (not the region).

The International Economic Development Council has named Wichita Falls’ own Taylor Davis as vice chair on the Young Professionals Advisory Committee. “We look forward to the service that this exceptional selection of professionals will bring in 2022,” said 2022 IEDC Board Chair and President and Executive Director of Executive Director of WorkRise at the Urban Institute Todd Greene. “I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together going forward.” Davis is currently the director of the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership & Military Liaison at the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce.

The Laredo Economic Development Corporation, under the direction of Gene Lindgren, has teamed up with several community and education leaders to organize a Healthcare Advisory to address the underserved needs of the Laredo Community. LEDC board member Dr. Rolando  Ortiz stated, "The original idea was to organize the advisory to investigate how to best attract medical companies to Laredo but soon shifted to a more pressing priority of addressing the understaffed skilled healthcare workforce."

Greater: SATX on Tuesday said it has hired a Dallas corporate relocation executive to be the public-private nonprofit’s chief economic development officer. Sarah Carabias-Rush comes to San Antonio from the influential Dallas Regional Chamber, where she worked for 18 years. She was the main contact there for companies looking to move to or expand in the Dallas area.

Texas’s top economic development official will target investments from companies focused on electric vehicles, batteries and outer space this year as the state looks to break another record for corporate relocations. Adriana Cruz, the executive director of economic development and tourism in Governor Greg Abbott’s office, said high-tech manufacturing is a priority for the Lone Star State.

Virginia

Cards for the Emporia Gift Match Program went on sale Tuesday, and will continue. The first round of the City of Emporia’s Gift Card Program netted the sale of 1,414 cards at $10 each. Emporia Community and Economic Development Manager Beverly Hawthorne told the Emporia City Council that she was pleased with the program’s initial phase. The creation of the Gift Card Match Program is an effort to assist local businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. The City used $25,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to boost small businesses in the City of Emporia. Citizens purchased up to five $10 cards for a total of $50. Participating firms matched the purchase price doubling the value of the gift cards.

Washington

The City of Edmonds has hired Doug Merriman into the contract position of interim economic development and community services director. Merriman most recently served as city administrator for the City of Sedro-Woolley, from where he retired. Prior to that, he spent over 20 years with the City of Oak Harbor in the roles of city administrator, deputy city administrator, and finance director.

Wisconsin

Aaron White, Eau Claire economic development manager and redevelopment authority director is scheduled to speak on Jan. 26.  The public is invited to hear about Eau Claire’s Phoenix Park project and how it became the spark for further economic development and growth downtown. “As we approach construction of the Town Square, it’s important for us as a board and community to be looking towards the future,” said Alex Allon, Watertown RDA executive director.

A $250,000 state grant to help the city of Park Falls create a park and gateway to its downtown has spurred redevelopment leading to a new bank building, an expanded community clinic and new investments downtown, city leaders say. “The state’s investment is meant to serve as a spark to inspire communities and businesses to revitalize their downtown and ensure residents have access to the services and amenities that make Wisconsin a great place to live,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.


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Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. By day: Director of Economic Development for Galveston County, Texas.


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