City, SID to split economic development post

Two vacant economic development positions will be combined into one and shared between the city and Special Improvement District (SID).

City Council authorized an agreement to share the services of an economic development specialist with the Rahway Arts and Business Partnership (RABP, formerly the Rahway Arts District). A resolution (AR-214-16) unanimously was approved during the governing body’s Nov. 21 meeting with no comment or questions from members or the public.

The economic development specialist will be a city employee for purposes of salary and benefits but the RABP will pay the city $40,000 annually for its share of the position. It’s unclear how much the city’s portion will be for the total salary. The agreement will run from Nov. 15, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2017 and may be extended for another 12-month period by mutual written consent of both parties, according to the resolution.

The agreement will combine two positions to help with overall economic development and business support throughout the city, according to City Administrator Cherron Rountree. “This model is similar to models in other communities, such as Cranford and Union, where the special improvement district representatives are employees of the municipalities,” she said in an email.

The new post will work with all businesses in Rahway and will have a special focus on the SID, according to Amy Garcia Phillips, artistic director for the RABP. One element of the position will be assisting new and existing businesses making changes, through the zoning and permit process, she added.

rahwayrising-headerThe RABP is the District Management Corporation (DMC) for the downtown special Improvement district (SID), which raises about $130,000 through an additional tax on 138 properties in the central business district. The city tried to expand the SID boundaries citywide two years ago, an effort that was knocked down in court and is still on appeal by the city.

The SID had one full-time executive director in Rachael Faillace until she stepped down in May 2015. About a year ago, the RABP board split the executive director duties: Gina Rodriguez would the full-time business manager while Garcia Phillips would be part-time artistic director. Rodriguez left the RABP position and the city had an open economic development specialist post vacated last year by an employee who left to pursue law school.

The position will be filled by Anne Marie Williams, who has served as Redevelopment Agency commissioner for almost two years. It’s unclear whether the position was advertised or if any sort of search was conducted.