Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 6, 2013

City puts economic development director position on hold

KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Volunteers will keep the city’s new economic development plan moving forward while city leaders discuss filling the economic development director position.

City Manager Jim Ferguson said Tuesday the city is not currently advertising to fill the economic development director position.

“We are discussing the economic development position,” Ferguson said. “We are not advertising for a new economic development director as of yet, but we are in discussion about filling that position. It will be one of the topics we plan to discuss at our executive session at the next board meeting. Any board action will depend on what comes out of that meeting.”

Though the position itself remains empty, Ferguson said volunteers with Team Blue and the Blue Momentum economic development initiative are continuing to move development efforts forward.

“The volunteers with Blue Momentum are pushing a lot of the economic development issues,” Ferguson said. “We are not losing any momentum on this plan. Regardless of if there is someone in the official position, the economic development plan will continue to go forward through the Blue Momentum teams.”

Aspects of the economic development plan include promoting the city’s railroad past with the creation of a Depot District on Raleigh and Commerce streets as well as creating a business incubator program, strengthening parks and recreation offerings, and enhancing music and art within the city.

Ferguson said Greg Shrewsbury, the city’s former economic development director, has remained heavily involved with the Blue Momentum initiative since he stepped down from the position in December.

“Greg Shrewsbury is continuing as an individual to be a part of Blue Momentum and the economic development plan that was approved by the board,” Ferguson said. “In his spare time, he has been very active. We are still moving forward with that plan.”

Ferguson said the main focus for the city has been educating the public about the new economic development plan.

“There are several parts to this economic development plan that are being worked on,” he said. “We are continuing to educate the public in the next month or so about all the different parts of this plan.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com