AMESBURY – The city is looking to hire a new assistant director for the Community Economic Development Department, who will serve under director Joe Fahey and possibly succeed him following his retirement in two years.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer said he and Fahey have been interviewing a slate of candidates and they hope to make a hire soon. The new assistant director is expected to make $70,000 annually. Last summer the City Council approved a half-year salary of $35,000 for the position as part of the current budget.
“There’s already money there,” Kezer said.
The decision to hire a new assistant director comes as economic development moves to the forefront of city politics. Kezer has repeatedly emphasized increased economic development as the solution to the city’s financial problems, and efforts to redevelop the Lower Millyard have dominated the public discussion over the past year.
Last summer the City Council voted to approve a $5.9 million proposal that will move the old DPW garage out of the Lower Millyard following months of contentious discussion, and next month the council is expected to vote on another $725,000 proposal that will create a new Heritage Park in its place.
Kezer and Fahey have both said that moving the DPW and creating the park could help draw as much as $93 million in new development into Amesbury, and Kezer said the new hire would be dedicated to making that happen.
“One of the things that some of the council has been asking for is someone to actively pursue business development in the Lower Millyard, as well as other areas,” Kezer said. “So the interviews we’ve been conducting have been with people with a particular skill set that will be very helpful as far as commercial and industrial growth in the city.”
Besides the Lower Millyard, the new assistant director will also look to bring in business development in places like the Golden Triangle between Elm St., I-95 and I-495, and in other underutilized areas.