Middletown taps veteran official as new economic development director

Middletown has a new economic development director, who comes to the table with 24 years of experience in the business.

Chris Xeil Lyons of West Chester is on Tuesday’s agenda to be confirmed by Middletown City Council for the position which pays $95,166 per year, according to Acting City Manager Susan Cohen.

Lyons was selected from a field of 36 applicants for the position that was vacated in January by Jennifer Ekey, who became the economic development director for the Clinton County Port Authority.

She will start her new position pending the completion of a background check and drug screen, according to city spokeswoman Shelby Quinlivan.

In her application letter, she believed her 24-year career and her “ability to cultivate strong, meaningful relationships with our region’s industry leaders, and my extensive experience in community revitalization makes me imminently qualified for this position.”

She is currently an economic development consultant and is the former economic development director for Sharonville, a position she had for seven years before leaving that post last November.

Lyons was the first person appointed as Sharonville’s economic development director.

During her tenure, Lyons said, Sharonville created more than 6,000 new jobs and realized more than $400 million in new investments, which brought an increase of over $8 million dollars to the city’s annual income tax collections. Her key responsibilities in Sharonville were leading the city’s business attraction, expansion, retention, workforce, land acquisition, and marketing efforts.

She also served as the liaison between the city and businesses, community/educational partners, Sharonville Chamber of Commerce, and local, regional, and state economic development organizations, where she also served as a board member.

In her career, Lyons gained extensive experience with public financing, Community Improvement Corporations, the regional· economy, as well as developing a thorough understanding of local government and development tools such as tax incremental financing, joint economic development districts, community reinvestment areas, enterprise zones and residential incremental financing.

“Throughout my career, I have been successful in building strong relationships and helping communities thrive,” her letter said. “I have helped revitalized distressed areas with strategic planning, marketing, and implementation.”

Lyons also served as an economic development/government relations consultant from 2010 to 2012 with the LNE Group and St. Francis Group. She was an economic development specialist for the city of Hamilton from 2003 until she was laid off in 2009.

While in Hamilton, Lyons served as the Main Street program liaison working with businesses to revitalize downtown Hamilton and worked on other projects such as RiversEdge and the Mercantile Loft Buildings which continue to see job growth and investments.

Lyons also served as a deputy Butler County auditor in the real estate division from 1996 to 2003.

A 1996 graduate of Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Lyons also studied at Regents College Internationals Business School in London, England in 1994. She received her master’s degree in business administration from Thomas More College in 2003 and is also has an inactive Ohio real estate license.

Lyons has also ran unsuccessfully for West Chester Twp. trustee in 2009 and in 2011.

She has been recognized for her accomplishments numerous times by various organizations in the communities that she has served.

Lyons could not be reached for comment for this story.

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