Greeley’s new eco-devo effort takes shape

GREELEY — The city of Greeley has hired an economic-development manager to help flesh out a new Department of Economic Health and Housing. Philip McCready joins Ben Snow, the director of the department, and J.R. Salas, long-time manager of the Urban Renewal Authority, as the leadership team for the new department.

Together, they are working to implement a new vision for economic development in the city of Greeley, a vision articulated by Roy Otto, city manager, in the planning for 2019 and beyond.

“Traditionally, workforce development and housing were not central to economic development,” Snow said in an interview with BizWest. Economic developers went after new business but were not expected to handle housing or workforce. “Housing and workforce took care of themselves,” he said.

No longer.

“About 10 years ago, in conversations with business, we discovered that a pain point for industry was workforce development. It might have been a tight labor force [like now] or a skills mismatch,” he said. Housing goes along with that, because without affordable places for workers to live, companies can’t hire.

He said workforce development and housing are the latest “children to be adopted” into the family of economic development and will be key emphases of the new department in Greeley.

“Technology is shifting, and the pace of shift is accelerating,” McCready said. “Digital is transforming many aspects of business and industry, and there’s now a premium placed on a talented workforce.

“Organizations have changed. Flatter organizations need people who can run with things without middle managers overseeing them. There’s a greater emphasis on workers [by employers,]” he said.

“As we fashion a strategic plan for this department, you’ll see workforce development and housing as part of the plan, in addition to the traditional things you’d expect in such a plan,” Snow said.

Snow and McCready said their strategic plan will include not only recruitment of business, but also how to assist startup businesses and how to encourage entrepreneurship.

Snow said they plan to “develop an innovation ecosystem” and identify second-stage companies — those that are poised for growth and scaling.

They discussed the concept of economic gardening, which requires efforts to create favorable conditions for existing companies that could grow if given the right conditions.

“The data nationwide suggests that these companies exist everywhere. You have to identify them. I’m personally passionate about this and worked on a program in Rapid City,” Snow said.

Snow spent nine years as president of the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, a public-private organization in that Black Hills community. His experience before South Dakota was in the Denver metro area where he served in multiple positions, including executive director of the Parker Economic Development Council and business development manager for the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. He is a graduate of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a certified economic developer.

McCready is a development economist and data analyst specializing in technology-led economic development, labor market, innovation and business-development strategy. He has a doctorate and masters in economics from the University of Manchester and a bachelors in land and real estate economics from the University of the West of England. In his new role with the city, he’ll take the lead on research and analysis to discover strengths, opportunities and challenges for the community.

“We’ll want to be flexible and adaptive,” Snow said. “I’ve been meeting with people and developing relationships; that’s important to us. Outreach is important because that’s what will give us the best insights.”

Otto said the newly reorganized department comes at a good time. “We were just named the eighth most dynamic metropolitan area in the country. As a graduate of high school here, I never thought I’d see Greeley described that way,” he said.

“We’re more connected regionally, and Ben is very wired toward that,” Otto said.

Said Snow, “The opportunity in Greeley to do economic development is pretty awesome. It’s a monumental opportunity. The growth trajectory, shifts in the economy, in technology and demographically makes this very exciting.”

 

GREELEY — The city of Greeley has hired an economic-development manager to help flesh out a new Department of Economic Health and Housing. Philip McCready joins Ben Snow, the director of the department, and J.R. Salas, long-time manager of the Urban Renewal Authority, as the leadership team for the new department.

Together, they are working to implement a new vision for economic development in the city of Greeley, a vision articulated by Roy Otto, city manager, in the planning for 2019 and beyond.

“Traditionally, workforce development and housing were not central to economic development,” Snow said in an interview with BizWest. Economic developers went after new business but were not expected to handle housing or workforce. “Housing and workforce took care of themselves,” he said.

No longer.

“About 10 years ago, in conversations with business, we discovered that a pain point for industry was workforce development. It might have been a tight labor force [like now] or a skills mismatch,” he said. Housing goes along with that, because without affordable places for workers to live, companies can’t hire.

He said workforce development and housing are the latest “children to be adopted” into the family of economic development and will be key emphases of the new department in Greeley.

“Technology is shifting, and the pace of shift is accelerating,” McCready said. “Digital is transforming many aspects of business and industry, and there’s now a premium placed on a talented workforce.

“Organizations have changed. Flatter organizations need people who can run with things without middle managers overseeing them. There’s…