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McNally Names Woodberry to Lead Development Office - Business Journal

T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s economic development director, will head the newly created department of community planning and economic development, Mayor John McNally announced this morning.

Woodberry has worked 14 years in the city’s economic development office at various levels. “I’ve been impressed with her work so far,” the mayor said. “I believe she’s earned the opportunity to serve in this position.”

Voters approved a charter amendment in November to combine the economic development office and community development agency. While Woodberry will oversee the entire department, Bill D’Avignon will remain as CDA director.

McNally has proposed a salary of $79,101 for the position. Authorizing legislation is expected to go before City Council next week.

“I’m thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to merge ongoing efforts with economic development with what community development has accomplished,” Woodberry said. “There is a natural meeting of the objectives for both departments.”

The new department will see a shift in focus, at least initially, to the neighborhoods and corridors, McNally said.

“She’s going to be tasked primarily with devoting more time and city resources to the economic development efforts on our major corridors, and working with the CDA unit and Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. in implementing the plans YNDC has prepared over the past six months,” he said. “Each one of those plans has a component increasing development in those main corridors, starting business associations and getting better relationships with small business in the area.”

Woodberry said the city “set the stage” for improvements to the corridors and neighborhoods with investments downtown and in business parks. “We have great things underway in terms of our Initiative program and funding for small businesses, but what you’ll now see is this all happening in a more strategic manner,” she observed.

The refocusing will represent a shift from the “larger projects” in recent years such as the Vallourec pipe, McNally added.

“What we ultimately want to see is our population stabilized,” with more people purchasing homes in the city, Woodberry said. “That has been on the decline and we need to reverse that trend. It’s a natural progression. Once you stabilize neighborhoods, it will make it easier for economic development to occur in those corridors and businesses will look to establish themselves there.”

Woodberry expects the combined departments to move into interim offices in 20 Federal Place in early 2015. The eventual goal is to occupy the space in City Hall now used by the municipal courts and clerk of courts’ office.

Some cross training will take place for employees of the newly combined department, she said.

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