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Upon Resignation of Main Street Director, Dayton Commits to Position

The role of Main Street manager in the City of Dayton has become very important in recent years. 

The position was held by Michael Giffen who has gone on to become the city administrator. His successor, Anthony Cadle, went on to an economic develop post at the City of Cincinnati.

But after only seven months on the job, current Main Street manager Tina Neyer announced her resignation.

The news - and a proposed path forward - became a point of contention at Tuesday night's city council meeting.

Giffen and Mayor Virgil Boruske had discussed the possibility of eliminating the position as a full-time job at the City, and instead moving to a contractor position with a set number of hours. "We can look at the position as a contracted position, someone as an economic development director that can lend guidance to the (Commercial Community Advantage Program), that can provide consulting on special projects as needed," Giffen said Tuesday. He said the structure would be similar to what the city does with its attorney, Tom Edge. "This would lend us the most benefit certainly in the short-term and any changes we need to make can be made in the long run."

But the proposal was met with little support from the rest of council. 

"We are taking one of our most important positions of selling our economic development programs and we are saying we are not going to pay much attention or put the time in it," said councilman Ben Baker. "I would try to spend more time." 

The CCAP program was launched in 2015 as an effort to lure more entrepreneurs and businesses to the Dayton business district. The program was managed by the Main Street position and saw some swift successes with restaurants and a retail shop coming to Sixth Avenue. But Baker said the momentum has slowed recently. "We have stalled in the past year filling businesses on the Avenue," he said. To change the structure of the position, he said, would be "a major mistake in the economic development of the city."

"There are no applications coming in," Mayor Boruske said.

"Because no one is selling it," Baker retorted. "We should be selling it harder. I don't see it out there. I don't see anyone out there at the Chamber or at the start-up companies saying we have space.

"We need a rock star. Ten hours a week isn't cutting it."

Council members Denny Lynn, Jerry Gifford, Joey Tucker, and Joe Neary agreed.
"This is a great position. Anybody in this industry would love to have it," said Neary, who has spent time on the Main Street board. He requested that the issue be discussed at the economic development and personnel committees. 
Though there was no official vote recorded, Boruske asked for a show of hands from members of council on who would like to see the position remain full-time or contracted. Only Bill Burns supported the mayor and city administrator's position.
"I think this position ought to be treated like any other position. You advertise and find the best candidate for it," councilman Lynn said.
"That's fine," Boruske said. "Advertise it."
Giffen will move to advertise the position for interested candidates.
Other notes: 
The city will embark upon a pair of significant sidewalk projects. Council will award a design contract to GRW Engineering at a cost of around $25,000 - though that number will be negotiated and brought back to council. The overall project is budgeted at $310,000 and will create a sidewalk connection from Seventh Avenue to Chateau, and a small connection from Upper Belmont to Ervin Terrace. There will also be sidewalk bump outs installed on the 500 and 600 blocks of Sixth Avenue, and ornamental lighting and new trees.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
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