PAWTUCKET — After the City Council questioned a new $53,200-$58,800 “community/business communications liaison” that the Grebien Administration is seeking to create, the mayor’s response last week was a letter talking about his economic development efforts.
In a letter to Council President David Moran, Grebien said his administration has made progress in economic development during the past two years.
Grebien told the council that in many cases, successful economic development requires time and patience. He said that it took more than two years of working with the Planning Department for the Public Archaeological Laboratory to find the right building, which it eventually did — the historic To Kalon Club.
Likewise, Grebien said it took over a year to help launch Foolproof Brewing (3 jobs), assist the relocation of R&D Manufacturing (49 jobs) and bring in Race Car Jewelry (13 jobs).
Grebien wrote that, despite the continued struggling economy and limited resources, “there are many signs pointing to an improved economy for the city.” He cited the $20 million redevelopment of the former American Insulated Wire building, construction of the $6.8 million Blackstone Valley Community Health Care facility, a new TD Bank being built off Cottage Street, and the planned medical call center bringing 250 jobs to 100 Freight Street as examples of investments being made in the community.
In his response to the Moran and the council, Grebien never mentioned the proposed “communications liaison” position that sparked the council’s inquiry into his economic development record in the first place. He did, however, note that “it takes dollars to create attractive marketing pieces and a website that will promote our economic incentives” and said it is “crucial that this year’s city budget provide adequate funding for this purpose and the consequent necessary outreach.”
Grebien concluded by saying to Moran, “Please be assured that as I move into my second term, economic development will continue to be a top priority among my goals for the city’s future.” He added, “I look forward to your and the council’s continued cooperation as we work to provide the necessary funding and other resources to allow my administration to revitalize the economy of our city.”
When asked about Grebien’s response, Moran said that “it had a lot in it.” Yet, he said he would have liked to have heard about some of the economic development failures—the businesses that were considering coming to the city but didn’t and the reasons why—in trying to analyze what the city needs to do to improve its business climate.
Moran also said that if the administration persists in wanting to create this new community/business communications liaison post, he will be asking for more details about the job and how the duties fit in with those of existing personnel. He also said he is interested in knowing if other communities have a position of this type, what the salary is, and whether or not it has been successful. If the position is brought back to the council for committee consideration, “we’ll be analyzing it very closely,” Moran said.