Janesville hires economic development director

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
— Vic Grassman, the man offered the job of being Janesville's new economic development director, said he's excited and optimistic about the challenges and opportunities Janesville offers.

Grassman's tentative start date is Monday, Oct. 12, but the job offer is conditional on a physical exam and drug screen. According to the city's Web site, the position's salary is negotiable but will range from $76,361 to $108,536.

Grassman will replace Doug Venable, who will retire at the end of the year. Venable has worked for the city since November 1987.

Grassman, 54, is currently senior economic development officer for Denver, where his duties include creating incentive packages to attract businesses.

Grassman graduated from Sparta High School and has a bachelor's degree from UW-La Crosse, a master's degree in urban planning from UW-Milwaukee and an MBA with a marketing emphasis from Keller Graduate School of Management in Milwaukee. He is a certified economic developer through the International Economic Development Council.

Grassman has worked for the city of Milwaukee in economic development, the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, the UW-Whitewater Small Business Development Center and in the private sector.

He has been in Colorado for 4 1/2 years and has a wife, Kaye.

Grassman said he's looking forward to returning to Wisconsin, and that was one reason to take the Janesville job.

"But I'm coming home to what I believe is a very proactive city and very proactive economic development officials," he said.

He said he has the "highest respect" for Venable, James Otterstein, Rock County economic development manager, and John Beckord, president of Forward Janesville.

"They're just excellent, excellent," Grassman said. "The city is very proactive for economic development.

"All these little things made the decision pretty easy."

Grassman said he has a "good handle" on Wisconsin.

All states have to compete, and every state's a little bit different with their economic development tool box, Grassman said.

"Businesses are going to locate for a business reason not just incentives, so you have to focus on that business reason."

He said his heart goes out to the folks who have recently lost their jobs here.

"Even though GM finally shut down, you folks have been mobilized for that issue since the early 90s," he said.

Grassman sees opportunities and resources, especially with Janesville being a development zone.

Janesville is in a great location and has great schools, roads, and available land, he said.

"Also, you have a very focused and concerned public/private sector. Both the public and private sectors are working towards Janesville's economic development future."

Last updated: 11:07 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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