City economic development official resigns

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Jim Leute
Saturday, March 16, 2013

— Janesville's economic development director resigned Friday, and a top city official said the community would use Vic Grassman's departure as an opportunity to expand strategies for business expansion and job creation.

City Manager Eric Levitt said Grassman resigned for personal reasons, effective at the end of the day Friday.

His salary was $96,913, Levitt said.

Reached later Friday, Grassman declined to comment on his resignation.

Levitt said the city would soon determine whether to fill Grassman's position in a similar fashion or restructure the department with more of a team approach.

He said the city recently committed more funding to economic development and will consider spreading Grassman's responsibilities among one or more people or contracting with outside organizations for specific economic development functions.

In a Friday memo to city council members, Levitt said the city has enjoyed economic development success through its collaboration with Rock County 5.0 and the Rock County Development Alliance.

“We plan to continue our existing efforts such as developing the Janesville Innovation Center and downtown revitalization along with our promoting job expansion,” he wrote. “This is an evolving and changing world, and we are working to create more adaptability to the varying demands.”

Levitt praised Grassman's work in bringing the innovation center off Beloit Avenue to fruition. An outside consultant manages the 22,000-square-foot incubator, which has several prospects.

He said Grassman played an important role in other economic development successes, including the expansions of several local companies and the additions of some new ones.

Levitt said Grassman was instrumental in the city being one of the first areas of the state to have a certified shovel-ready site available for development. While no business has moved to the site, Levitt said he is confident one will in the future.

Levitt said economic development would continue to be a top priority for the city, although it will take some time to transition to a new strategy after Grassman's departure.

That assessment comes on the heels of a survey of city residents last year that indicated economic development and job creation were top priorities.

Grassman was hired in the fall of 2009 from a pool of five finalists to succeed Doug Venable, who retired after 22 years with the city. Grassman came to Janesville from Denver, where he was an economic development officer for that city.

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.

He also 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.

Last updated: 7:56 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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