Elected officials in Brookfield have adopted a pair of initiatives aimed at bolstering and managing economic development, approving a formal three-year economic development plan on May 9 and following up May 23 by voting to create a nine-person Brookfield Economic Development Commission, whose members will explore strategies and provide advice.

The economic development plan was authored by Cindy Klima, the consultant hired last August to serve part time as the village’s economic development coordinator and dig into how the village could better promote and manage economic development.

“We have always been working on economic development, but to take the time to put it down into a comprehensive, cohesive written plan that future boards can follow and amend as they see fit … is a very big step,” said Village President Michael Garvey just before the unanimous vote to approve the economic development plan.

The plan is separated into three 12-month phases, with the first zeroing in on actions the village can take more or less immediately, although it’s clear it’ll take some time to get some of them off the ground.

Engaging someone like Klima to focus solely on economic development is the No. 1 action mentioned in the plan, and she will stay in that role part-time as a consultant, said Village Manager Timothy Wiberg.

In April, officials had discussed the possibility of hiring someone on a permanent, staff basis – either part time or full time – to direct Brookfield’s economic development efforts. However, that’s unlikely to happen in the short term.

“We have no plan right now to hire a full-time economic development person,” Wiberg told the Landmark by way of follow-up. “We just don’t have the resources for it.”

Klima will continue to serve in her present capacity, with assistance from Emily Egan, the village’s community development director and the new village planner, Kate Portillo, who has been hired and will start in the job this week.

No. 2 on the list of first-year initiatives in the economic development plan is the creation of the Economic Development Commission, which trustees voted unanimously to do on May 23.

Strongly recommended by Wiberg, who experienced working with such an advisory group during his long tenure in Lincolnwood, the commission will consist of nine members who will be business owners or senior managers drawn from a variety of local business sectors, including restaurants, real estate, retail, tourism/attractions, financial, service industry, Brookfield Zoo and the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce.

Members will serve three-year terms with the village’s community development director serving as the commission’s staff liaison.

The commission will work on projects meant to advance the economic development goals of the village and will be tasked with tracking implementation of the economic development plan. Reports on that progress will be delivered regularly to the village board.

“Sometimes we just get caught up in the day to day, trying to get things done, but actually putting this down as a plan, as a living, breathing document is very important,” Garvey said. “Like all good plans, it can’t sit on a shelf and it will be reviewed for progress, with measurable items, and it will live and grow.”

Village Trustee Brian Conroy, who serves as the village board’s liaison to the Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that the commission is not meant as an alternative to that group, but as a resource.

“This is not in any way to compete with or diminish [the chamber’s] efforts but to complement them and bring [economic development] more to the forefront, the focus and attention of village hall,” Conroy said. “[The chamber] can only stand to benefit from these initiatives.”