Hancock seeks leader to spur development

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette The Hancock Downtown Development Authority is beginning the search for a business coordinator to improve networking and promotion surrounding downtown events and commerce.

Hancock’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) voted unanimously on Monday night to begin the search for downtown coordinator. The coordinator would recruit new businesses, promote downtown events, handle social media and coordinate between the DDA, City Council, business and professional groups and the downtown beautification committee.

Monday’s vote was board approval for city manager Barry Givens to work up a full job description that would specify duties and compensation.

“It is mentioned in our development plan,” Givens said.

At this point, they Givens expects it would be a 20-hour per week position.

“I don’t think we’re the size where we need a full-time DDA director,” board member Pete Mackin said.

Mackin has worked with the DDA in Marquette and saw how a good networker there improved coordination and cooperation among businesses there using strategies developed in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t borrow equally good ideas that have worked for Marquette,” he said. “What we’ve been missing is someone to coordinate it all.”

The position will be funded through the DDA’s administrative budget, which has a $20,000 cap, according to Givens. Some of that money is already used, but if the role grew, it is possible of to add funding from other sources, too.

“I think it’s really time we give something like this a shot,” Givens said.

He suggested a two-year trial period for the position once it starts, and told the board that he doesn’t have anyone in mind to suggest for the role at this point.

John Haeussler, Hancock’s mayor, said that the city council had considered such a position as a good idea, but members of the public have desired a focus on code enforcement first.

“We need both,” Haeussler said.

Haeussler said if the DDA funds a business coordinator, that leaves the council to focus on strengthening code enforcement.

“Obviously, getting the right person will be a key to whether and how successful it is,” new board trustee Bob Frantti said.

The motion starts the process, but posting of the position and final hiring will also need approval from the DDA board.