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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wanna-Be Economic Stimulator for Layton Boulevard in City of Milwaukee, WI

"Job Title: Economic Development Manager
Posted by: Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, Inc.
Date Posted: 02/21/12
Deadline to Apply: March 5, 2012

Job Description:
The Economic Development Manager’s responsibilities include a broad range of activities and strategies. The Economic Development Manager must be creative, entrepreneurial and adaptable to the changing needs of the neighborhood.
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Position Type: Full-time
Compensation: Based on experience.
Type of Employment: Direct Hire

Restructure the Economics in the Neighborhood:
•Create jobs by providing technical assistance to individual businesses.
•Identify retail recruitment and retention strategies for immediate implementation.
•Maintain inventories on business vacancies and properties for sale.
•Create and promote resources to potential business owners to establish or expand their business in district.
•Recruit new businesses to the district.
•Identify, secure, and promote resources and incentives such as grants, loans, permits, general contractors, architects, and graffiti removal.
•Establish relationships with landlords and property owners to encourage lease ups of viable retail businesses.
•Approach economic restructuring as a means to retain existing businesses and to attract new or expanding businesses to the neighborhood.
•Manage proposals with business consultants and third party vendors.

Improve Design Aspects of Commercial Corridors:

• Establish and implement milestones for commercial district design improvements.

• Promote design improvements and resources to business owners, including streetscape and façade improvements.

• Meet individually with business owners to identify individual design needs.

• Provide one-on-one technical assistance to businesses to improve their building and commercial corridor.

• Cultivate partnerships with institutions of higher education and others to provide design concepts and incentives for improvements.

Promote the Commercial Corridors and Neighborhood:

• Promote the commercial districts, with special events and retail promotions, such as Sounds of Summer concerts and Trick-or-Treat Street.

• Provide individual technical assistance to businesses and clusters of like businesses to promote them.

• Work with media and Internet outlets to promote the district.

• Create and implement marketing initiatives to generate excitement and awareness of the business corridors.

Organize and Empower Business Owners:

• Work with economic development committee to oversee the implementation of the economic development aspects of the Quality of Life Plan.

• Leverage other Quality of Life Plan strategies as opportunities to maximize impact.

•Recruit, train, coordinate, and manage the volunteers of the various project committees.
•Serve as a central point of communication for all committees, volunteers, staff, Board, and outside contacts.
•Facilitate the process of setting goals and benchmarks, identifying strategies to accomplish them, and monitoring the progress toward meeting the program’s goals.

•Prepare all reports required by the Community Development Grant Administration, LBWN, and other partners.
•Participate in staff and board meetings.

• Participate in other economic development meetings and panels regarding commercial revitalization.

• Assist in the development of LBWN’s and the Economic Development portion of the newsletter, website, marketing videos, facebook, and others media tools.

• Prepare and monitor the program’s budget.

• Supervise interns as needed.

• Write grants and reports and make presentations to investors and board.

• Work with media outlets to promote projects.

• Build partnerships with elected officials, city departments, realtors, brokers, and others.


• Minimum Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate, Urban Planning, or a related field with community development and/or economic development experience

• Experience working with diverse populations

• Excellent problem solving skills

• Bookkeeping skills

• Strong ability to think on your feet

• Team player

• Excellent oral and written communication skills

• Experience working with public officials and media

• Ability to multi-task with a strong sense of meeting deadlines and follow-up

• High degree of professionalism, flexibility and initiative

• Exceptional organizational and time management skills

• Desire to make a difference in a south side Milwaukee neighborhood

• Ability to work evenings and weekends, as events necessitate

• Bilingual in English and Spanish preferred

Benefits and other compensation:

Attractive Benefit Package."

For compensation which lists “depending on experience” in lieu of an actual minimum and maximum, the Economic Development Manager combines many functions of a Chamber of Commerce, grant writer, property manager, urban planner, event planner, and public relations director. I imagine the backlog on these activities is already at a bottleneck due to the vacancy and due to the difficulty of finding someone to fulfill interim duties, considering how the neighborhood association known as “Layton Boulevard West Neighbors” (LBWN) assigns each director the work of three.

If the scope creep of the position isn’t enough to discourage most applicants, the neighborhood’s preference for someone who speaks both English and Spanish fluently hints at the myriad opportunities for miscommunication in this public relations-oriented position. Homonyms are one of the most insidious language phenomena because a well-intentioned translation may sound like an insult due to improper context or intonation. I suppose that if identification with the community and actual development expertise prove to be inversely correlated among applicants, then familiarity with the neighborhood would be a stronger factor due to the whole concept of “community empowerment” or “buy-in.” This mentality sometimes closes the community to outside expertise which it really needs, but thankfully this is a fairly technical position which is accordingly shielded from the direct control of a democracy.

Some of the job requirements obviously favor remodeling and landscape contractors, e.g. “Promote design improvements and resources to business owners, including streetscape and façade improvements.” How are local businesses supposed to afford those improvements except by raising the price? Although LBWN promotes its business district much like a downtown district would, e.g. with summer concerts outside retail establishments, Layton Boulevard is too close to the Old Third World District to really have a comparable identity outside the neighborhood proper.

And so with most customers being neighbors, one must be careful to keep overhead low, lest your customers ride the bus to Aldi or TJ Maxx instead of purchasing from your grocer or boutique. I know that business district assessments make rents around 20% higher than what they would be in an outlying office park. The stringent parking regulations and tendency for streets to merge southerly (such as near Layton Boulevard) also makes it a hassle for suburban motorists to go downtown; most go to the mall because it is more accessible to vehicular traffic. Hence, the primary benefit of downtown-style districts is the increased pedestrian traffic, but the Malls at Mayfair and Grand Avenue leach away many bus-riding customers, thereby leaving local residents and the occasional day tripper who wants to see what all the LBWN-generated hype is about.

One final strike against the LBWN district is that it is half a mile west of General Mitchel International Airport. While in theory this might sound advantageous, most airport patrons purchase goods and services either inside the airport or at their intended destination, not in an unfamiliar neighborhood some four or five blocks away. The noise generated by air traffic can also discourage some shoppers. In summary, whoever becomes LBWN’s next Economic Developer Director is almost certainly doomed to failure, and hence only masochists wishing to commit career suicide need apply.

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