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Brooklyn adds city’s first full-time economic development director and city planner

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 3/30/2020 By John Benson, cleveland.com
a train on the corner of a street: Brooklyn\u2019s newly hired economic development director and city planner Jeremy Rowan will work on revamping the city\u2019s zoning code, including businesses on Memphis Avenue. © John Benson/cleveland.com/cleveland.com/TNS Brooklyn\u2019s newly hired economic development director and city planner Jeremy Rowan will work on revamping the city\u2019s zoning code, including businesses on Memphis Avenue.

BROOKLYN, Ohio -- Mayor Katie Gallagher recently hired Brooklyn’s first full-time economic development director and city planner. Formerly with the city of Independence, Jeremy Rowan, who starts today (March 30), replaces part-time economic development director Andi Udris.

“Andi is in the process of starting his full-time retirement from public service,” Gallagher said. “Knowing I wanted to hire a planner, he said this is a good opportunity to get both -- somebody who knows how to do planning and economic development.”

Rowan added, “The mayor and her team have had great economic development accomplishments. I look forward to moving the city ahead with them.”

The part-time Udris was making $40,000 a year annually, while Rowan’s yearly salary is $105,000.

“I’m not leaving until next year,” Udris said. “We expected to hire a freshman economic development candidate and spend a year to train them, but when Jeremy became available I urged the mayor to hire him because he’s very experienced and an excellent replacement.

“Someone like Jeremy doesn’t come along very often. He’ll initially focus on planning and new economic development initiatives while I will work on American Road and (pandemic-related) disaster assistance for Brooklyn businesses.”

The mayor said it’s often hard for a small city like Brooklyn to find an experienced economic development director. This was the case with landing Udris four years ago and now with Rowan who bring his planner background to the city.

“Jeremy just checked all of the boxes of things I was looking for,” Gallagher said. “The merging of the two positions makes sense as we’re finishing up this master plan process.

“It’s about having somebody to take the lead and execute that city plan, as well as knows economic development and can close the gap in funding. Business retention and attraction are vitally important for our community’s long-term success.”

Gallagher noted having city council on board for Rowan’s hire was reassuring.

“Jeremy was highly-regarded at his previous position, and I believe will be a great addition to the city administration,” Brooklyn City Council President Ron Van Kirk said. “We’ve been considering making the economic development director position full-time for some time now, but due to budget constraints that was not possible.

“Now that the city is in a better financial position, it’s exciting to be able to hire a quality individual like Jeremy to work on economic development and city planning full-time.”

As far as what a planner brings to Brooklyn, the mayor said the position takes a more holistic view of the city. In addition to not only attracting businesses, Rowan will consider what do those businesses look like and what is the community looking for as far as park space, transportation and amenities.

One of the projects Gallagher said Rowan will begin tackling early on includes updating the city’s outdated zoning code.

“We’ll be able to kick that off this year,” Gallagher said. “We have a good gist of what residents want to see, but our zoning code is just very antiquated.

“It was written a long time ago. We just need to update it so when a business comes in that it matches that kind of district that we’re outlining and also, frankly, to make sure the city is protected.”

Read more news from the Parma Sun Post here.

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