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Clinton Township still searching for economic development director

Candidate declines position

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published July 20, 2020

File photo by Deb Jacques

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The search for Clinton Township’s first economic development director continues after the preferred candidate declined the offered position.

On June 15, the Clinton Township Board of Trustees approved Oak Park Community and Economic Development Director Kimberly Marrone as the township’s economic development director. The position comes with an annual salary of $95,600.

She was initially brought forward to the board by a candidate search committee that includes Planning Director Bruce Thompson, Human Resources Director Bill Smith, Supervisor Bob Cannon, Treasurer Paul Gieleghem and Trustee Ken Pearl.

Cannon said Marrone was offered the job because she was “head above everybody else” and “knows the ropes and will hit the ground running.” He anticipated she would have worked on projects related to the Gratiot Avenue Downtown Development Authority and on strategy related to Groesbeck Highway.

On July 3, Marrone texted that she made a decision June 26 not to  accept the position.

“My current employer wanted me to stay and made a great offer, so it didn’t make sense to switch,” said Marrone, who has been credited for helping bring a FedEx facility to Oak Park.

After Marrone notified the township of her decision, members of the five-person committee iterated they were meeting again to discuss the next phase of the candidate process and find a new candidate to bring forward to the Board of Trustees for approval.

That process was still taking place at press time.

“She probably realized she had vested time in Oak Park that she was going to lose if she came to Clinton Township, for retirement purposes,” Cannon said July 10. “We knew she liked Oak Park and they liked her, and that’s why we wanted her because she did a good job over there.”

Gieleghem said July 15 “we’re obviously really disappointed” that a “great candidate” in Marrone declined the position. He said whoever comes into the role has to address a mostly developed community and work in a “far more self-directed” role as it pertains to different types of development, including mixed-use and filling commercial space on primary corridors.

He cited aging storefronts and commercial and industrial properties. He thought Marrone had a “great combination of energy, experience and poise” necessary to address the issues and steer through the process of outreach and heeding different challenges that come with a COVID-19 world.

“We know that what we’ve got here is somebody having the ability to come in, a person with the right level of experience and the right level of professional approach, and we can try to create and shape an entire department for a community that hasn’t put a whole lot of priority on this issue,” he said. “What we in Clinton Township are finally starting to realize, we can’t just sit back and wait for that development to come to us. We’ve got to get out and fight for it.”

Pearl, who said Marrone “was the right fit” for what Clinton Township requires, has a sense of urgency and hopes the township will rise up to meet new challenges. He said the township is at the stage “where we’ve got to get moving with development.”

He cited commercial vacancies on corridors and on Garfield Road, as well as fresher ideas for The Mall at Partridge Creek and addressing needs resulting from the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of good things happening but a lot that needs to be done. … It’s not going to turn around overnight, but you’ve got to put the work in,” Pearl said.

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