Town to seek community development chief

Front Royal plans to take another shot at finding someone to help boost the town’s economy.

Town Council this week reviewed a proposed job advertisement for a community development director. Council plans to consider approving the advertisement at its meeting Monday to start the search for applicants. Members debated some parts of the language of the advertisement during their work session but voiced general support for the initiative.

The town has set aside more than $100,000 over the past few years toward the position’s salary and related expenses. The advertisement states that the town anticipates the position would come with a salary range of about $40,000 to $63,000.

The Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce and the Front Royal Independent Business Alliance provided the proposed job description as stakeholders in the initiative. Town staff members updated the description to include references to business recruitment and to note that the position reports directly to council. Town Manager Steve Burke said council can seek input from outside agencies regarding the position.

Council debated the language of the job as advertised, specifically the position’s relationship with the EDA. Councilman Bret Hrbek said he wouldn’t support the advertisement if it indicated that the position would “confer” with the EDA.

The person accepted for the position also would act in a similar capacity to the manager of a Virginia Main Street program and would identify funding opportunities for such a program in town. Applicants will be asked if they have experience with a Virginia Main Street Program, though this will not be a requirement. Mayor Timothy Darr said he didn’t want applicants who don’t have experience with the Virginia Main Street Program to feel they shouldn’t apply for the position.

In an Aug. 17 letter to Darr and council members, the stakeholders indicated they understood the position would be responsible to the Virginia Main Street’s Affiliate Program’s Board of Directors and to council and would administer the current affiliate designation or future Main Street designation if awarded.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt has said in earlier discussions about the job that he felt the position should focus somewhat on tourism given the sector’s influence on the town’s economy. Front Royal has a tourism coordinator – Tim Smith.

Council went down this road in 2013. The town received some applications and council conducted interviews. Council ultimately scrapped the search after failing to find a suitable applicant and members decided to rethink what they wanted. Darr said the town might have made a mistake in the earlier search by seeking applications from firms as well as individuals.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission came to council last year and offered to help create a jointly funded position with duties that would include community development.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com