Butler County to examine economic development director job

Finance authority will be run by Hamilton city manager, prompting new look at existing opening.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Butler County will reassess what kind of candidate could fill its open economic development director position as the final steps commence to have Hamilton’s city manager take over the Butler County Finance Authority.

Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith was hired in February to become the next BCFA executive director, and the final approvals before that can become official are set to take place this evening and Thursday morning. These two votes will formalize a joinder agreement, which will lead the way for the creation of the Hamilton Development Finance Agency.

Hamilton City Council is expected to approve the agreement today. The BCFA will then approve the joinder agreement at a special meeting on Thursday. Though it was initially believed the order of approving the joinder was irrelevant, a legal opinion suggested otherwise, according to those involved.

Because of Smith’s hiring, Butler County Administrator Judi Boyko said last week to the county commissioners they had “paused our search as this joinder agreement was being negotiated.” She said there needs to be a conversation between the BCFA and the county before they continue the search for an economic development director.

Boyko said with Smith’s hiring, they are now forced to rethink the responsibilities of the county’s economic development director position, who would have operated the BCFA.

“A candidate evolved through this joinder agreement, which is phenomenal, Mr. Smith will do a fantastic job for the county, and so we’re no longer in that search, so we almost need to reassess what kind of candidate we’re asking the James Davis Group to attract,” she said to the commissioners.

Once these two votes happen, Hamilton City Council will be free to seat a board of directors for its Hamilton DFA, a dual economic development entity that is both a port authority and development finance agency. Though the city’s DFA will be separate from the BCFA, Smith, who begins his new job on April 8, will offer strategic oversight to the new independent body.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit has been named the next Hamilton city manager.

Boyko said the county’s new economic development director would complement Smith’s skills and experience. The county had contracted the James Davis Group to find its new economic development director, but now as the county reassesses that job, she asked commissioners to provide her with thoughts on qualifications this director should possess, as well as job duties.

Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon called the whole process “transformational.”

He did emphasize the BCFA would not take over any community’s development department, including the county’s, but rather it would “be a tool for them.”

“This is going to be something I think is out of the normal framework,” Dixon said. ”There are going to be all kinds of opportunities of development, and all areas of the counties should benefit from it.”

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