YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown City Council met Monday night to discuss making the Community Planning and Economic Development Department more efficient and better position the city to attract new business.
The plan to reorganize the department would mean hiring new people.
Sharon Woodberry, the department’s director, asked council to consider creating three new positions, two of which would directly affect how Youngstown develops in the future.
The first position suggested was deputy director of planning and strategic development.
“The job requirement for this position will be that this person has a degree in urban planning and some experience in urban planning,” Woodberry said.
The person hired would also take over for Bill D’Avignon, who retires in May 2017, as community development director.
The second position would be business development director. Woodberry referred to a strategic plan put together by Youngstown State University that targeted certain industries the city should be looking at.
“We need someone to be able to attend trade shows and go after those particular industries because it is a strength for this area. That person, this would be their main responsibility.”
Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Ray liked what he heard.
“Everything that comes through the door is not equal, a lot of times it needs vetted. There’s a lot of great ideas, but I think we really have to figure that out,” he said. “I think having the person in the role that can actually shake that out, dig that out, is good and forward-thinking, so I’m happy to see that.”
The new positions will all be paid with federal funds, so no city money will be used. Third Ward Councilman Nate Pinkard thought that maybe the city should pitch in to accomplish what it needs to do.
“I know you’re within your budget, you’re not dipping into the general fund, but maybe we should be,” he said.
Council agreed to consider the changes, and will likely vote on them at its regular meeting on October 5.
Woodberry also asked council for $350,000 to buy 12 properties, which are still occupied, on Youngstown’s lower east side so the city can create an industrial park.
Bertha Tillis, 88, is an occupant of one of those 12 houses. The city wants her to leave the North Lane Avenue home she’s lived in since 1961, but she doesn’t want to.
Her family expressed their displeasure at a public hearing, but Woodberry said she must leave. The requested $350,000 includes the money necessary to fight Tillis in court.
Council will vote on the allocation and a zone change for the area on Wednesday.
The plan to hire new employees and the plan to demolish 12 homes on the east side are part of two separate projects.