- 2012 - October - 18th -

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

 The Downtown Investment Authority began setting a foundation Wednesday to revitalize Downtown and its economic development by determining its CEO criteria.

“We want to have someone who has some seniority, somebody who has already been in some Downtown improvement programs, probably someone who has put together some deals to broker private-sector investment, someone who has got some organizational dynamics,” said Don Shea, the DIA board member appointed to lead the committee that will establish the CEO criteria and job description.

“We have a structure, but we don’t have any plan. Someone is going to have to take the lead in moving this board forward in adopting a plan, therefore you need someone who has been through that,” Shea said.

Shea said he thinks the criteria committee will likely transition into a search committee, which would determine whether a search agency or consultant should be hired to identify candidates.

He said that in his experience, professional guidance helps with such a search.

Shea said he would recommend a couple of authority members to join the committee after determining their interest level.

The nine-member board met for the first time Wednesday. Chairman Donald Harris, who nominated Shea to lead the CEO criteria committee, also nominated members Oliver Barakat as vice chairman of the authority and Daily Record Publisher Jim Bailey as secretary.

The first part of the meeting focused on ethics and public records training, a staple for new City boards and commissions that are subject to the state’s Sunshine Law.

The meetings are scheduled for the second Wednesday of every month. The next meeting was set for Nov. 14, but several members wanted to meet more frequently.

Harris pushed for the regularly scheduled meeting, saying he wanted a leader in place before the authority begins to work on a vision and business plan.

However, members Melody Bishop and Bailey were among those who thought work could be accomplished before then.

Authority members decided to meet Oct. 30. Shea said he could have the CEO criteria established and brought to the board then.

Other organizational matters included the authority’s budget, which Paul Crawford, City Office of Economic Development acting director, said was combined with the OED during the recent budget process and will be determined.

The authority also will have oversight of the Community Redevelopment Area funds that will be used as a revenue source for economic development and revitalization in those Downtown areas. Several authority members asked for more information on the program and its implementation.

Barakat also pushed for authority members to stay updated on the status of the Bostwick Building, the historic structure at 101 E. Bay St.

An application to demolish the building was denied by the City Historic Preservation Commission. Building owners are appealing the denial.

City Council member Lori Boyer spoke during the public comment section of the authority meeting and said she hoped to see the authority engaged with the Council Land Use and Zoning Committee, which she chairs.

The appeal will be heard by the committee next month.

Boyer and Council member Jim Love also spoke of their support for the authority in its endeavor and said they were behind the effort.

“I’m rooting for you,” Love said.



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