Economic Development Specialist
NATURE OF WORK:
This position performs responsible professional work to assist in the development and implementation of City of Evanston economic development programs and projects that support commercial, office, and industrial businesses and development activities. The Economic Development Division’s work is primarily focused on the retention of existing Evanston businesses located in traditional train station and neighborhood merchant districts and within commercial office developments in downtown Evanston. This is achieved through business visit interviews, information gathering, analysis and presentation, and the application of publicly funded programs and partnerships with private service providers.
The Economic Development Specialist position will require regular reports to the City Manager and other senior city staff, and merchant districts leaders on business recruitment and retention activities, economic trends, and local real estate activity. The position will require frequent social media posts and website updates through the Evanston Edge brand, in addition to publishing short interviews or stories featuring local business owners and entrepreneurs. The Economic Development Specialist will also be required to implement and maintain the City of Evanston business registry. The position will require the creation and maintenance of an economic indicator dashboard.
The Economic Development Division is comprised of a staff of two and is located within the Community Development Department. The Economic Development Specialist reports to the Economic Development Manager; and the Economic Development Manager reports to the Community Development Director.
ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS (Specific assignment will include some or all of the following):
- Conducts business visitations of businesses located in Evanston’s neighborhood business districts and subsequent identification of retailers or businesses in districts through business visits that are interested in expansion or require additional retention assistance.
- Acts as initial point of contact for general inquiries from new and existing business walk-in and phone inquiries; acts as Economic Development liaison for 311 inquiries.
- Assists in the preparation of customized, confidential, professional responses to prospect requests.
- Contributes to the constant improvement of presentation materials / in-house publications.
- Participates in the development of marketing and sales strategies that will result in new prospect activity.
- Support Economic Development Manager with business district organizations concerning economic development issues and challenges.
- Develop, maintain, and present a comprehensive inventory of available commercial, office and industrial building spaces and sites within the community for economic development purposes; tracks vacancy rates within the City by commercial industry.
- Assists as needed in preparation of PowerPoint presentations and supporting materials, for presentation to City Manager, City Council, Committee meetings, key business groups, and/or other special interest groups.
- Works with Economic Development Manager and the Community Engagement Team, local merchant districts, and Chamber of Commerce Officials to coordinate announcements and the promotion of the new businesses openings, existing business expansions or key anniversaries, and general business activities and special events.
- Provides timely reports to the Economic Development Manager, Community Development Director, City Manager, and City Council on activities and progress on retention, expansion, and attraction efforts that are used to brief City Council and other elected officials.
- Maintains economic development web presence on various websites throughout the City.
- Prepares and works in coordination with the City’s Community Engagement staff to redesign, maintain, and distribute periodic newsletters and reports.
- Implements the Evanston Business Registry including disseminating annual invoices, processing company information, and distributing business registry/license to applicants. Includes management of business registry database.
- Maintains Mayor’s new business certificate welcome program.
- Process Entrepreneurship Grant Applications for presentation to Committee and City Council.
- Performs other duties as assigned or directed.
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS OF WORK:
Must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in urban planning, public administration, or business with a focus on real estate and/or economics or similar discipline. Master’s degree is preferred.
Must possess two (2) or more years of progressively responsible economic development based work experience including economic development research experience. Possession of two (2) or more years of experience working for a local chamber of commerce, business district improvement area, special service area, or related municipal position in which job responsibilities involved direct contact with business districts and individual businesses is preferred.
Must possess a valid driver’s license and a safe driving record.
Knowledge, skills, and abilities in the following areas:
- Knowledge of marketing, communications, and public relations, with experience in outreach and communications to a broad base audience.
- Innovative, self-motivated, creative, resourceful and independent thinking; Strong problem solving skills with an ability to quickly assess the issues and challenges and begin to develop alternative solutions for preferred economic development projects and programs.
- Ability to review, understand and discern key information from market analysis, economic or fiscal impact reports, or other related economic development studies and reports; ability to take information and adapt, as appropriate, to Economic Development priorities and strategies.
- Ability to understand, administer and adapt the process of land use regulations as administered by local municipalities throughout the U.S., and articulate their theoretical basis, generally, and specifically related to commercial business expansion and attraction.
- Considerable knowledge of and ability to use Internet search engines, word processing software, email, and Windows operating systems.
- Experience utilizing social media software in a professional capacity through marketing, social campaigns, advertising, and/or business promotion.
- Ability to work with and relate to a diverse group of citizens from varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.
- Excellent communication, organizational and project management skills.
- Experience with graphic design and presentation of infographics techniques
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS OF WORK:
- The ability to work in a primarily sedentary position, with the ability to occasionally use force to exert up to 10 pounds. The ability to lift, carry or otherwise move objects, books, materials, etc. using up to 25 pounds of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly to move objects.
- The employee is subject to inside environmental conditions: protection from weather conditions, but not necessarily from indoor temperature changes.
- There are no environmental hazards associated with this classification.
The Economic Development Specialist reports to the Economic Development Manager who outlines work assignments, reviews work in progress, and assesses completed work. Works closely with all relevant departments/divisions to assist and inform in the processing of economic development related issues and policies; best practices as appropriate. Guidance is provided via the strategic plan, economic development vision statement, economic development work program, City Code, City policies and procedures, applicable state and federal laws and regulations, ensuring that planning initiatives are met. Work is evaluated at least annually with respect to progress toward achieving goals, leadership, communication skills, customer service, ability to work productively and effectively with employees at all levels in the organization as well as community groups, businesses, major employers and the general public.
The employee has regular and frequent contact with department and division employees and other City employees; regular contact with individual citizens and groups, including business associations and elected officials. Facilitation of and presentations during public meetings are part of the scope of work for this position.