EDC Board discusses executive director job

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By Christine Bolaños

The Liberty Hill Economic Development Corp. Board discussed its executive director position during a special meeting Feb. 4.

The discussion was a result of Kirk Clennan’s recent departure from the role after he was let go by City Manager Greg Boatright.

Boatright said some of the big questions to come out of the meeting were whether the role should be a part-time or full-time position and whether changes to the job description should be made.

Members of the board hope to agree on what the position entails and what is expected of the person fulfilling that role before moving forward.

“They wanted to look over the job description for that position,” Boatright said. “Before they made any decisions, (they) wanted to see if we needed to maybe narrow down the scope or be more specific in the description before it was posted.”

He said the board will further discuss the position at its regular meeting on Feb. 18.

“We’ll discuss what they envision that position being,” Boatright said. Another question to ponder will be where to advertise the position beyond the Texas Municipal League website.

“It was talked about whether we needed to hire a firm that specializes in locating people for positions,” Boatright said.

If the EDC Board chooses to go that route it will be the first time they utilize a recruiting firm.

“There’s a lot of different ideas,” Boatright said. “At the next board meeting I think we’ll get a pretty clear indication from the board of what direction they want to go in hiring for executive director.”

He pointed out that when Clennan took on the role of the first full-time executive director less than a year ago he was working with a different EDC board.

“We had a huge turnover,” Boatright said. “Three brand new members right after Kirk was hired. Kirk had a relationship with the members of the prior board. There were still some of those board members, primarily Johnny Johnston (and) Lance Dean.

“But we had Debby Norman, Eric Van Natter and John Clark, who were new to the board,” he added. “Now we’re past that and now they have the ability to look at it closely and see what they envision as far as their future executive director.”

Boatright said he views this positively and that the EDC wants to put an emphasis on local business moving forward.

“Kirk had a wide field of pursuits when it came to businesses,” Boatright. “I think what the board is looking for is more of a local type of focus for that position.”

Emphasis would be placed on existing businesses and businesses that fit the Liberty Hill community.

“Ones that we stand a reasonable chance of landing here in the Liberty Hill community,” Boatright added. “If it’s 500 jobs and a large amount of infrastructure that would be required that’s just something that we’re not capable of doing yet.

“But the 10, 15, 25 employee business that would be looking at a certain footprint of building,” would work better for Liberty Hill, he said.

The goals would be for the EDC board members to get on the same page and for the new executive director to be realistic in their pursuits.

“There’s certain requests that we get through the Texas EDC that we’re not capable of fulfilling,” Boatright said. “More than anything, I really think that’s what the board is looking to. What is realistic for our community? What is it that we have here that we can expound on?”

Local feel of the community, the school district and affordable housing should be focal points, he said.

“Things that we have that we can offer right now are things that we need to promote,” Boatright said. “And not things we’re hoping will come along.”

The Liberty Hill City Council has a strategic planning session on Feb. 29 and Boatright hopes as many EDC board members as possible can get involved.

“Let’s just have a discussion about what it is that the EDC Board envisions and what it is that the Council envisions and see if we can’t unite those things,” Boatright said.

The place is to be announced for the all-day planning session. Boatright, and EDC President Lance Dean are fulfilling the role of EDC executive director and handling EDC business in the meantime.

“We have a very workable situation to where I think once we have our planning session and kind of see eye-to-eye on the direction we want to go there is a lot that can be accomplished,” Dean said.

Both the Council and Board, for example, are invested in developing downtown Liberty Hill.

If the Board chooses to contract with a recruiting firm to find Clennan’s replacement it would be a first for Liberty Hill.

Boatright said the former EDC board was in talks with Clennan before Boatright was brought on as part of city staff.

“At that time the board was really interested in hiring him but felt like they couldn’t afford it at that time,” he said. “That was around 2010, 2011, and so, there was a relationship with the board.”

Once the board decided they wanted to hire an executive director, Clennan became the logical choice. This next time around would be the first time a search is made for the person filling the role.

“I think it’s always good just to see what’s out there,” Boatright said. “The longer I’m here the more I feel like it’s important for us to not limit ourselves when it comes to hiring. Our city is in a much different position these days than it was just a year ago in that we can be competitive in the market now with our salaries.”

He is confident Liberty Hill can seek out quality candidates.

“It’s a good thing for our city in that we do have that ability now to fill those positions and not limit ourselves because of the resources that we have,” Boatright said.

He said there are likely board members who disagreed with his decision to ask Clennan to resign.

“The common consensus was, ‘That’s done. Let’s move on. Let’s talk about where we go from here,’” Boatright said.

No members of the public were present to provide comment at the meeting Feb. 4.

“The main thing we need to do is everyone get on the same page,” Boatright emphasized. “To accomplish something we really need to narrow our focus and be realistic about what’s attainable and what’s not.

“We’d all love to have a large manufacturing company or a large employer come to our area, but, that’s not the way we’re built right now,” he added. “We’re built for owner-operator type businesses. I like that kind of thing. It gives us the local feel that I think everybody enjoys about living in Liberty Hill.”

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