In plan, Janesville officials hope to boost time for economic development

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Marcia Nelesen
Saturday, April 20, 2013

— Janesville city officials hope to ramp up the time spent on economic development by employing two coordinators rather than one director.

Vic Grassman resigned as economic director in March, and Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz wrote in a memo that now is a good time to consider restructuring the department.

The city council will consider the change at its Monday meeting.

Since 1986, the city has had one person who coordinated development efforts and drew on city resources, Winzenz wrote.

“This structure has been very successful, but in recent years it has proven to be a limitation in fully promoting and implementing our economic development strategies,” Winzenz said.

In 1986, the city had one active tax increment financing district and very little economic development, Winzenz said in the memo.

Since then, the city has created 32 new TIF districts, 18 of which remain active.

TIF districts are responsible for more than 5.5 million square feet of property valued at more than $170 million, Winzenz said. TIF projects pay more than $3.5 million annually in property taxes and employ more than 6,500 workers with an estimated payroll of $200 million.

While the strategy has been successful in the past, economic development has become increasingly diverse and complex, Winzenz said.

The early strategy focused on attracting new businesses and employers to Janesville.

The new strategy includes other goals, especially focusing on retaining and growing existing business.

The city’s more recent goals include:

-- Business retention and expansion

-- New business attraction

-- Four commercial redevelopment TIF Districts—downtown, West Court Street, Center Avenue and Milton Avenue.

-- The new business incubator

-- Downtown redevelopment

-- Brownfields

-- Marketing, including the city website

More staff time is needed to meet the expanded goals, but the city is hampered by tight budgets and levy limits, Winzenz said.

Two coordinators would increase the number of hours devoted to economic development by between 1,040 and 2,080 hours.

Grassman’s full-time hours amounted to 2,080, and another staff member logged an additional 6 hours or so a week devoted to economic development.

Grassman was paid $96,913, not including fringes.

Winzenz expects a coordinator’s pay range would be from $45,000 to $50,000.

Winzenz said the salary would likely attract candidates with degrees in planning and hopefully extra training in economic development.

The coordinators would report to the assistant city manager.

Last updated: 10:24 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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