Downtown development agency puts out call for key staff member


The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority is going forward with creating a new position for a project manager and has begun looking for potential candidates online.

The duties of the project manager would be to help administer and develop projects and programs on behalf of the DDA. An ideal candidate would have knowledge relating to urban planning and design that revolves around economic development, historic preservation, transportation, public finance and real estate development.

“The overall goal of the position is to contribute to the continued revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids through the use of planning and re-development-related tools and expertise. The position will work closely with the DDA executive director, as well as related agencies and organizations within in community,” wrote Kristopher Larson, DDA executive director, who joined the organization in August.

Larson said ads for the position have been posted on several job websites, and he has received some responses.

“We pay for a number of services,” said DDA Vice Chairwoman Kayem Dunn. At least a portion of the dollars the board uses to cover those services will go to the salary and benefits cost of the new project manager. “It’s time for us to grow,” said Dunn.

The DDA currently has a staff of three, including Larson. Eric Pratt is the agency’s planner, while Anne Marie Bessette has served as the board’s retail specialist since 2008. But Bessette is leaving the post next week and moving to Germany next spring.

“The staff has been too small for a long time,” said Dunn.

The DDA is in the process of transitioning itself from being a city agency to an independent organization as part of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., which will also include the Downtown Alliance, the Downtown Improvement District, and possibly a few others eventually.

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