Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the Economic Development Committee Wednesday night that, despite the city’s financial problems that are leading to expected layoff announcements tomorrow, he plans to beef up the city’s staffing to carry out economic development activities.

Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the Economic Development Committee Wednesday night that, despite the city’s financial problems that are leading to expected layoff announcements tomorrow, he plans to beef up the city’s staffing to carry out economic development activities.

Bobkiewicz said he plans to ask the City Council to expand newly hired Community Development Director Lehman Walker’s position to be “Community and Economic Development Director.”

And he plans to hire two new planning staffers to handle economic development work.

That will be a net increase of only one person, however, because also at the meeting, the city’s current economic development planner, Morris Robinson, announced that he will be retiring next year.

Planning Director Dennis Marino will also continue to work on economic development issues, Bobkiewicz said, but some of his responsibilities will change to focus more on “strategic work.”

Because of the upcoming changes in personnel and strategy, Bobkiewicz said, he doesn’t believe the city is yet ready to fully participate in a partnership with other entities in town that could lead development efforts, including the Northwestern University, the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Evanston.

But, in the meantime, the committee voted to adopt a set of economic development priorities that include business retention and expansion, business attraction, commercial area revitalization and redevelopment and community marketing.

The priority list will be on the agenda for approval by the City Council at its Jan. 11 meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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3 Comments

  1. More Staff—What Have they been doing before ?
    Just like government—hire more staff during a recession and claim they are needed for development.
    What has the administration all the staff been doing over the years that now they decide they need to do development ?
    Possibly creating more rules/regulations/zoning to discourage business. Will that change now or will all the groups that have slowed business coming/staying will be a loggerhead with the new group encouraging business ?
    Best bet ? Anti-business groups will kill anything the development group proposes and we will be left with the status quo—but paid a lot of money to get there.

  2. Lets also cut some of the EPD’s administration fat.
    It may well not be the best time for our new city manager to begin to look at EPD’s budget: the current budget is excessive for our community’s crime profile.

    Its my thought that the current City Council does not have the guts to trim some of the excessive, over weight, administration positions in the EPD.

    Lets not be afraid to tell EPD to look at its budget and roll back some of its good old boys’ administration staff positions. Please no more new fancy police cars for a while.

    Wake up Evanston, EDP is costing us too much money for the actual serivces delivered. Lets not get to caught up into EDP’s prevention marketing.

  3. More development staff ? Use Kellogg or at least locals.
    If they absolutely, positively need more development staff [what have they been doing all these years ?], they should get over to Kellogg and hire students and faculty to help. At a minimum ‘new staff’ should be consultants not permanent hires who will never get off the payroll and be Evanston residents.
    Instead the city will probably hire a Boston consulting firm made-up of Kellogg graduates from 2005 which will charge the city five times what Kellogg would—and not have the supervision of Kellogg faculty.

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