As the City of Gilroy prepares for escalating local development,
officials have their eyes set on reopening a city position they say
will work hand-in-hand with current efforts to welcome new
businesses and improve customer service.
As the City of Gilroy prepares for escalating local development, officials have their eyes set on reopening a city position they say will work hand-in-hand with current efforts to welcome new businesses and improve customer service.
The city is expected to reinstate a development center manager position, a job that had been vacant for several years but was expected to be funded once again in the city’s new two-year budget.
Whoever is hired as development center manager will be responsible for assisting new businesses in relocating to Gilroy once they’ve made the choice to do so, though City Administrator Tom Haglund said the position wouldn’t infringe on the current activities of the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation, a concern several members of that organization have held.
“The EDC is kind of the marketing arm for the city. They encourage businesses to come here.” Haglund said. “When that businesses makes the decision to come here, they have to enter an approval process with the city that includes applications, (and) permitting. That’s really where the rubber meets the road. That’s where the hand-off occurs.”
Since the Gilroy City Council’s annual goal-setting session in January, the idea of an economic development manager or ombudsman has floated around, prompting some to ask whether the position would duplicate current efforts to assist potential new businesses.
EDC President Tammy Brownlow and board president Kurt Michielssen said in February they were wary that such a position would cause on overlap of EDC tasks, though they were open to working with any position the city created.
Founded in 1996, the nonprofit EDC focuses exclusively on economic development within Gilroy by promoting and facilitating business growth.
Public talks of adding such a position had been dormant for weeks until the development center manager was inserted as an amendment into the city’s new draft budget during a May 9 Gilroy City Council meeting.
On Wednesday, Brownlow said she couldn’t say precisely how the EDC would work alongside a development center manager until that position’s duties were clearly defined.
“I’m not really sure what the position will entail,” Brownlow said. “It’s about communication. It’s about establishing up front what everyone’s job is.”
The job description, dated 2006, is available through the human resources section of the City of Gilroy’s website. The description doesn’t specifically include duties related to economic development, but does call for maintaining “effective working relationships with elected officials, supervisors, co-workers, other departments, outside agencies, business and community groups, contractors and the general public.”
Haglund said the position would help the city improve customer service by streamlining the approval process for developers with simple, straightforward projects, allowing them to “literally walk out that day with a permit.”
“What I want and what the Council wants is a customer friendly environment,” he said. “We want to assist them with good customer service and assist them as quickly as possible.”
The position would cost the city approximately $334,000 during the next two years, with a maximum anticipated salary of $124,000 – in addition to $38,000 in benefits – for the next fiscal year, according to City Finance Director Christina Turner.
Haglund said the total employee cost for the position will jump to $172,000 in the second year because of an increase in benefits.
The position would also support staff in crafting amendments to codes and ordinances and enforcing state and local regulations to ensure uniform application – including building codes, fire codes and zoning ordinances.
When asked if the position would carry specific benchmarks, Haglund said, “We will develop those as we work into how we’re going to implement the position and what it will be responsible for.”
He said the position likely wouldn’t be filled until September at the earliest.