On Monday evening the Oak Park village board was expected to approve the start of a hiring process for an economic development director. This post has been left unfilled for several years. While we understand the rationale for leaving a costly post vacant during an extended recession when development opportunities were smothered, we agree it is time for Oak Park to get back to business.
The challenge with this hire is to find a person with almost contradictory skill sets. We need a government insider who can influence, connect and smooth the levers of bureaucratic caution. We need a business pro who understands the dynamics and risks in development. We need a person who can blend those skills into a role that makes local government resources more powerful while attracting the energy that only the private market can provide.
Finally, as this hiring process begins anew, we ask for clarification on how the village government’s beefed up role in development meshes with the government-supported role of the Oak Park Development Corporation.