During the past two months, Brookfield Village Manager Keith Sbiral has been combing through dozens of resumes trying to find the right person to lead what is now known the village’s Community and Economic Development Department, formerly the Department of Building and Planning.
It turns out he didn’t have to look all that far.
On Friday, Sbiral announced he had hired Nicholas W. Greifer to be Brookfield’s first community and economic development director.
The 50-year-old Greifer will serve essentially as the No. 2 administrator at village hall, reporting directly to Sbiral and overseeing a newly reorganized department that includes a village planner, a permit coordinator, building inspector and a clerical staff supporting a variety of village functions.
“He’s had plenty to staff management experience,” said Sbiral. “And having the mentality of having been in a results-driven, goal-driven office, implementing that in the building department will be a positive thing.”
If Greifer’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s worked with Brookfield village government since 2005 as vice president of Kane McKenna and Associates and was closely involved in the development of Brookfield’s two TIF districts on Ogden Avenue.
“He brings the knowledge of working with a lot of municipalities as well as those in the private developer sector,” Sbiral said. “He also brings a private-sector mindset to the position. And having such grounded knowledge in municipal development finance is invaluable to us.”
Greifer during his time at Kane McKenna also consulted with Brookfield officials on bond issues and refinancing debt. His job at Kane McKenna brought him in close contact with government officials and developers working on economic development initiatives, often through TIFs.
He’s well-versed in municipal finance, especially with respect to bond funding, something that will be of use to the village as it tackles its approach to public and commercial infrastructure in coming years.
“Having someone who knows the nuts and bolts of getting that infrastructure funding will be key,” Sbiral said.
According to Sbiral, Greifer’s starting salary will be $93,000. His first day on the job will be April 6, a day before the municipal election.
Greifer, a resident of Skokie, has both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan. Prior to working with Kane McKenna, Greifer spent six years as a manager at the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), where he was editor of a publication called Public Investor.
Before that, Greifer was a legislative analyst for the Northwest Municipal Conference in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and as an employee in the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C.
“I think this is a natural progression for me,” Greifer said. “I work in the field of municipal economic development, so basically I’m going from the private sector to the public sector. I’ll still be doing municipal economic development, but on behalf of just one client.”
Greifer said that each community has a portfolio of assets. Part of his job will be taking inventory of those assets, determining Brookfield strengths relative to neighboring communities and other parts of the Chicago area and then promoting the Brookfield brand and its strengths.
He said he’ll also be using the tools the state has given local municipalities “including TIF, but not just TIF,” to foster economic development.
Greifer cited Brookfield’s location, access to transportation and its desirability among young, professional families looking to settle close to, but not within, Chicago as strengths the village can exploit.
“But I still think its starts with the [village president], elected officials and Keith,” Greifer said. “My job is to help them be effective and score some wins for them.”
While Greifer has not run a municipal building department before, Sbiral said the organization is set up now to work as a team and not depend on a top-down management style.
“I don’t see that as being a fundamentally challenging aspect for him,” Sbiral said.
Sbiral also said economic development won’t just be something Greifer alone will be working on. It’s a major initiative for the entire staff inside village hall.
“I don’t see economic development as falling on the shoulders of any one person,” Sbiral said. “I think that department is the hub of the wheel where all the spokes are connected. Everyone has a role, but Nick is the person charged with directing the orchestra.”
Village President Kit Ketchmark said he and the board were “excited” have Greifer on board and to have the Community and Economic Development Department staffed completely.
“We’re excited, because this all ties together,” Ketchmark said. “With the hiring of Nick, it completes the whole evolution of the department.”