As the village of Brookfield continues to search for a new community development director to oversee the building department and village planning efforts, Village Manager Timothy Wiberg has been given the go-ahead to hire an outside consultant to serve as the village’s economic development coordinator on a part-time basis.
At the village board’s July 26 committee of the whole meeting, Wiberg introduced trustees to Cindy Klima, who has filled similar roles in communities such as Lisle, Niles and Winnetka and who from 2007-12 was president and communications director for the Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation.
Klima comes to Brookfield through the firm GovHR, which the village has used in recent years to fill vacant positions while searches for permanent replacements are conducted. GovHR’s ranks are filled with veteran, often retired municipal officials, from planners to municipal managers. The firm also does recruiting for such positions.
Most recently, Klima worked through GovHR in Lisle as an economic development specialist, establishing a public-private partnership, establishing its mission, vision and strategic direction.
“I will be honest with you, in the three years that I’ve been here through various community development directors, the crush of everyday business for a new community development director is immense,” said Wiberg, who was hired as Brookfield’s manager in September 2018. “They oversee the divisions of building, planning, zoning and economic development, and unfortunately [economic development] is one of those things that falls through the cracks.”
Since Wiberg arrived, the village has employed three community development directors, with the last two lasting less than a year each. Michael Schwarz, the most recent director, left in May after nine months on the job.
The turnover comes amid a very busy time in Brookfield as it relates to redevelopment and planning. Wiberg said he is conducting the search for a new community development director himself and that it will take at least two more months before the job is filled.
In the meantime, said Wiberg, it’s important to address economic development now and for there to be an action plan ready to implement when the new director is in place.
“I’ve identified over the last few years that it really is an area of vital importance to the village, and what’s been frustrating to me is getting a person or entity who can devote the attention that’s needed to this to help us develop an economic development strategy and an action plan,” Wiberg told trustees on July 26.
Brookfield will pay $84 per hour to GovHR for Klima’s services, and Wiberg suggested she would probably work two to three days a week, but will essentially work on as-needed basis.
The funding for the contract position is coming from savings the village has realized by having a vacancy in the community development director position for the past three months.
“Her role will be to meet with key stakeholders in the community, review past/current studies and reports and evaluate the current business conditions in the community, eventually resulting in the creation of an action plan for pursuing a general strategy for economic development opportunities,” Wiberg said in a memo to the board about the contract position.
Klima is expected to begin those stakeholder meetings this week, Wiberg said.
Once a new community development director is hired, that action plan will be handed off, but it appears likely that Klima could continue working for Brookfield on a contract basis, with a focus on economic development, in the future.
“My thinking is that she can stay as long as we want her to or as long as she wants to,” Wiberg told the Landmark in a follow up interview. “I fully anticipate the relationship lasting for some time after we hire a director.”
Wiberg said that his experience seeing community development directors struggle to manage both the building/planning and economic development aspects of the job has made him realize the village may need an economic development specialist as well.
“I’m tired of shooting at butterflies,” Wiberg said. “Our approach has been totally reactionary.”