FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The board of directors for the Downtown Improvement District accepted current executive director Rich Davis' letter of resignation after a two-hour closed door discussion Thursday. Former Allen County Commissioner Bill Brown was appointed interim executive director of the DID.
Davis had the position since 2008 when he came to take the job from Rhode Island. His resignation is effective June 8, 2012.
Brown's interim position will be effective June 9. Brown will be paid a pro-rated portion of a $78,000 annual salary.
The board also said it will go through the process of interviewing and hiring a permanent executive director. A search committee will be formed at its next board meeting and it will begin accepting applications. The board said Brown is welcome to apply for the position.
Brown's appointment was approved with eight yea votes, zero no votes and three abstentions. Greg Leatherman, a board member and the executive director of the Redevelopment Commission, said he abstained because of the process of how Brown was appointed, but he didn't elaborate further.
Fort Wayne City Councilman Tom Smith (R-District 1) has been outspoken about the DID needing to expand its efforts. Smith said Brown's appointment would be a good choice.
"Bill has the community background, the political background and the business background. He's very experienced," Smith said.
Managers at the Pint & Slice and the Dash In in downtown Fort Wayne said they are happy with the DID's efforts to help their businesses.
"They've been our go-to as far as getting things done, any festivals we've done, any local support we might need," Angie Twiss, the Pint & Slice manager, said.
Nick Perry, the Dash In manager, said festivals and TinCaps games downtown can double his business.
"Keep the events coming, big events, block parties, festivals, all help us, so they can do festivals all summer long and we'd love that," Perry said. "The DID had done underwriting with us for advertising and do a really good job of bringing people downtown to enjoy it and that's bringing us new customers."
Tena Woenker, the director of marketing and business development at the DID, said the agency works with the city and other agencies to connect with the businesses and make improvements.
"We work with business owners and see what their needs are and see if we can address their concerns and plan events to get people down and see our community and be a part of the center of our city," Woenker said.
She added that the DID has doubled its events this year compared with last year.
"I give them a lot of credit," Geoff Paddock, Fort Wayne City Councilman (D-District 5) and the director of Headwaters Park, said. "They work hard to promote the downtown area and let folks know there are lots of things to do downtown that some might not think about."
Woenker pointed out the DID's efforts in getting 100 flower pots around downtown and keeping the area trash-free.
"My making the streets safer and keeping things clean and green and have more events, we're making sure there's something for everyone, and we definitely have busier streets," she said.
Smith doesn't deny the DID has done a lot of project and worked hard to get people to come downtown, but said it's time to step-it up a notch.
"The DID has always been successful at downtown events, but it has got to get beyond just events. Downtown has got to be more than an entertainment venue. It doesn't mean get rid of these things, but other things have been ignored and bypassed," Smith said.
Smith wants to see more economic development in downtown with new businesses coming in, and he thinks Brown can do that.
"One thing Bill brings to the table is local knowledge and his belief in downtown. That kind of enthusiasm spreads very quickly and that's the spark that's been missing, in my opinion, in the Downtown Improvement District," Smith said.
Brown is also running for Allen County Council on the Republican ticket this November.
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