Economic development is a 2012 city council goal
by: City of West Linn Chris Kerr

The city of West Linn announced Monday, March 26, that it is creating an economic developer position.

Senior Planner Chris Kerr was named to the position.

This appointment is made in direct response to the West Linn City Council's adopted goals for 2012, which includes the specific dedication of staff to manage a sustainable economic development strategy for the city that reflects the Highway 43/Willamette Falls Drive visioning process. The economic development director position is part of the management team and will report to City Manager Chris Jordan.

'I am pleased that Chris will be joining the management team in this important role,' said Jordan. 'Chris was integral in the first phase of the Highway 43/Willamette Falls Drive visioning process, and he brings his vast planning and development experience to the position.'

Kerr will formally transition into the economic development director role on June 1.

According to the city, there are no plans to fill Kerr's senior planner position for the foreseeable future and he will receive a pay increase of approximately 10 percent for assuming a director-level position.

There is a net-zero financial impact because a vacated project coordinator position will not be filled to accommodate the creation of the economic development director position, according to the city.

Kerr joined the city of West Linn in 2007. During his employment, he has served as the interim planning director and interim assistant city manager. He brings more than 12 years of private and public sector experience, including work as a planning project manager on numerous commercial, mixed use and redevelopment projects.

Last week, Jordan sent letters to the members of the economic development committee announcing the new position.

'As you are aware, the city council has taken the advice of many of you and decided that a much greater emphasis needs to be placed on economic development in West Linn,' stated Jordan in the letter.

'The City Council is now going through a process of becoming better educated on economic development tools and strategies. Out of that conversation, we expect the council to provide more specific direction to staff and to the economic development committee.'

Since the council is taking on a leadership role for economic development, it will provide more specific direction to staff and to the economic development committee. The first of these work sessions is scheduled for April 9, immediately following the city council's regular meeting.

The city is also anticipating that one of the steps in the process will be a review of the resolution that created the economic development committee, whose members are historically appointed by the city council.

According to Jordan, 'The purpose statement in that document may not fully capture the direction of the city council as we, as a city, become more engaged in economic development activities.'

Jordan spoke with several city council members who suggested it would make sense for the current economic development committee to wait a few months while the council goes through its education process prior to pursuing any new initiatives.

'After this process is complete and the council has provided guidance, our new economic development director will let the EDC members know how we will proceed and work with you as we initiate a new direction for West Linn,' stated Jordan.

The economic development director position is the third recent change in upper level city positions.

On Feb. 7, the city announced that it would not be renewing the employment agreement of Public Works Director Gene Green, effectively terminating his employment with the city. Advertisement for this position closed on April 9.

The city council also recently approved a new assistant city attorney position during its March 12 meeting. The position will plan and direct legal actions within the limits of the general policies of the city and established standards and practices of the legal profession. Applications for this position will be accepted through April 30.

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