YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The city’s director of community planning and economic development says she is carefully evaluating the position of director of economic development before determining how she will fill the position.
Nikki Posterli, who also serves as chief of staff for Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, said she doesn’t have a set timeline for naming a successor to T. Sharon Woodberry, who resigned in April to take a job in Florida.
“It’s too critical a position to rush into, but I’m not going to drag it out forever either,” Posterli said.
“Having a strong economic development department is extremely important to the growth, sustainability and overall success of the city,” said 7e Ward councilor Basia Adamczak, chair of the council’s community planning and economic development committee.
“So we have to be very careful when filing this post,” she warned.
Posterli said she was looking for someone who can attract business, as well as understand the direction the city is heading and “get ahead.” In the past, the city’s economic development office reacted to opportunity rather than being proactive, though it acknowledged it was essentially a two-person split.
“When I look at other communities, they have a lot more support,” she said.
As part of her assessment process, Posterli said she’s been working in the position so she has a better idea of what it entails, which she says she does whenever she has a job. position to be filled.
“It will help me when I prepare a new job description to see where I want the parameters I want to set,” she said. The current description is 15 years old and it did not rule out dividing responsibilities into more than one position.
His process also involves meeting with the city’s economic development partners – including the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Western Reserve Port Authority, Valley Partners, Economic Action Group and Environmental Design Group – to see how the city can strengthen its relationships with the entities. “I want to strengthen our partnership base so that I know when I place someone in this role, they have a full support system in the community,” she said.
Successful cities tend to have strong economic development teams, not only made up of internal staff and employees, but also those that include and interact with local partners, Adamczak said.
The partnership with EAG is an example of how such relationships have benefited the city, she pointed out. She suggested that the director of economic development could act as the city manager/director of community development, serving as a liaison between the city and its collaborative partners.
The city could also enter into professional services agreements with its partners for some of the economic development division’s responsibilities, she proposed.
Posterli said she was considering creating an incentive structure that would provide bonuses for meeting job creation targets and other benchmarks. “I want to set benchmarks and goals for the job,” she said.
Additionally, she is looking at what other communities are doing in terms of job structuring and has reached out to cities like Akron and Columbus as well as cities outside of Ohio to see what their job descriptions look like.
“That’s why I can’t rush it,” she remarked. She has been meeting with city council members over the past few weeks to get feedback on what has worked well at the economic development office and what changes need to be made, she said.
So far, they seem to support the changes she’s considering.
“The council is very aware that this division, this department is the face of the city,” she said.
She is also waiting for a new Director of Economic Development to be hired to fill other positions in the department so that person will be involved in building the team, which is what Woodberry was working on when she received the opportunity to join. job in Florida that she accepted.
Adamczak, who also said she researched what other communities had done with their development offices, said she agreed with Posterli’s deliberate approach, in part because anyone hired would fall under the protection of the public service.
“Not rushing is fine,” she said. “We would be doing ourselves a disservice by taking the position for the sake of filling it. She also said she had researched what other communities had done with their development offices.
Although she’s never heard of Posterli seeking incentives, it’s a concept she said she would support to provide the city with a competitive edge” in the search for a new director of economic development. .
“A lot of times the challenge we face is that they’re paying what we’re giving isn’t very competitive,” she said. A merit-based incentive would be a “win-win”.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.