Interim economic development president could be named Friday

City officials are mulling a $100,000 traffic study for Welburn Avenue in Gilroy.

The Gilroy Economic Development Corporation will likely announce
an interim president Friday, said EDC Chair Kurt Michielssen.
The Gilroy Economic Development Corporation will likely announce an interim president Friday, said EDC Chair Kurt Michielssen.

“We are moving forward as far as hiring an interim president. I’m in process of putting together an offer,” Michielssen said, but added he won’t announce the name of the candidate until he or she has accepted the offer.

Former EDC president Richard Spitler stepped down less than four weeks ago after eight months on the job.

Since its formation by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce in 1996, the EDC has been a liaison between developers and the city. It receives funding from the City of Gilroy, the Chamber of Commerce and from the corporation’s 23 business partners. In 2009, the EDC’s city funding was cut by 20 percent.

Mayor Al Pinheiro said a starved EDC has a direct effect on the lack of businesses coming to Gilroy and said the bad economy has been to blame when Spitler announced his resignation in early November.

The funding difficulties the EDC is facing has made it all the more urgent for the EDC to fill the spot, Michielssen said. The interim president will be charged with helping the EDC board choose a permanent president, while trying to garner funds from the city and private sector, Michielssen said.

The EDC now has a city-allotted $96,000 budget, down from $120,000 in Fiscal Year 2008-2009. The two-person staff of the EDC is the only city paid positions to form the liaison between businesses and the city.

Michielssen said the economy is similar to when the EDC board replaced former director Larry Cope with Spitler.

“We still have a difficult economy and there are still challenges – from the funding standpoint – for its ongoing operation. After realizing the challenges for the EDC, we thought it important to seek someone with an economic development background and was available to help us move forward,” Michielssen said.

EDC board member Jane Howard mentioned the importance of the EDC in strengthening the economy of Gilroy and said she shared Michielssen’s concern in finding a solution in struggle for funds.

“I think that it will be important that, whatever is worked out, we’ve got something in place so that there’s a next step,” she said.

The EDC board decided to hire an interim president at their scheduled board meeting Nov. 17. One individual was interviewed for the interim position, Michielssen said.

Spitler will become the City of Calistoga’s city manager in December. A Calistoga resident, he said his decision to move was motivated by family.

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