Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg has announced that beginning Oct. 7, Ross Klicker will take over as the village’s new director of community development, capping a three-month search for someone to lead the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Klicker comes to Brookfield after serving for the past seven years as economic development coordinator for northwest suburban Niles. He has nearly three decades of experience in the area of community and economic development as well as municipal planning.
“The entire conversation with Tim [Wiberg] and the department heads felt like home,” Klicker said of his interviews with village officials. “I felt like I had known these people for a long period of time.”
Klicker was familiar with Wiberg, having met him informally while Wiberg was village manager in Lincolnwood. Klicker said he wasn’t actively looking to change jobs when Brookfield reached out to him personally.
“They came to me with this opportunity,” he said, adding that he didn’t realize Wiberg was Brookfield’s village manager until his interview.
Wiberg said that Brookfield’s human resources director, Michelle Robbins, suggested Klicker as a candidate, because he was a finalist for the Brookfield job back when it last came open, in 2015.
At that time, then-Village Manager Keith Sbiral hired Nicholas Greifer, who had worked previously with the village as a tax increment financing district consultant.
“Niles has had a lot of success in economic development,” said Wiberg, “and what we learned was that Ross has been in the middle of all that.
Wiberg terminated Greifer in June. For the past three months, retired longtime municipal administrator Martin Bourke has overseen the Department of Community and Economic Development on a part-time consulting basis.
Klicker was chosen from a pool of about 60 candidates, seven of whom went through a two-round interview process that included conversations with village department heads and with Wiberg and Assistant Manager George Issakoo.
“Ross was unanimously thought of as someone who was going to fit into the culture that we’re trying to build around here,” Wiberg said.
Wiberg said he liked that Klicker during his career “touched every rung of the ladder in community development.” He has worked as an inspector, code enforcement officer and has been engaged in planning and economic development. Brookfield’s Department of Community and Economic Development will have Klicker overseeing all of those facets.
“I like the fact that he has ground-up knowledge,” Wiberg said.
Klicker’s starting annual salary with the village will be $112,500, Wiberg said.
For the six years prior to his time in Niles, Klicker was the planning/economic development coordinator for the city of Wood Dale. He started his career as a property maintenance inspector for the village of Hoffman Estates, where he set up a systematic inspection program for every residential property in that town.
In Niles, Klicker said he’s been involved in business retention efforts, recruitment and long-term planning.
One initiative he’s been heavily involved in is a plan to transform a commercial/industrial area along Touhy Avenue, near the most recognizable village landmark – a half-scale replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, now owned by the village – into a Rosemont-esque destination that would be pedestrian-friendly and accessible by mass transit.
In 2015, Niles officials rewrote the zoning code for the area in order to invite redevelopment and, according to Klicker, wrote “an entire land-use plan based around that tower” that would heavily feature entertainment/hospitality uses.
Klicker said that Ogden Avenue will be a focus of his efforts toward economic development, saying he wants to begin a wider conversation with both property owners and local residents about what they envision for the village’s busiest – in terms of vehicular traffic — commercial corridor.
“I want to make this a community process,” Klicker said. “What does the community want to see there? Once that’s established, it’s starting to go out and sell that plan to developers and other end-users.”
Klicker said that process is all about “making contacts and telling the story.”
“It’s literally talking to people, listening to people, to get them involved in the decision-making process moving forward.”