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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 5 years ago

City names new downtown economic leader


Sarasota has named Norman Gollub, former economic development manager for Greenville, S.C., the new downtown economic development coordinator.

Gollub spent six years, from 1998 to 2004, in the South Carolina city with a population of 61,000, working to reduce commercial vacancies downtown and to secure more than $825,000 for improvement projects, according to his resume. Gollub also led efforts to bring in $50 million in private development and form an overlay zone to guide revitalization. There are high hopes for the new downtown economic steward who helped turnaround Greenville.

“Mr. Gollub was selected from an extensive group of resumes because of his very appropriate experience and high marks for what he did in several communities — perhaps most impressively in Greenville, which is a very progressive community,” said Steve Queior, president and CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

Queior said he doesn’t expect Gollub to “walk on water,” but he expects the new economic steward to be at the center of activity to make downtown Sarasota stand out and attract new businesses and development.

“He is very well-rounded, and I am encouraged in terms of what he will bring to the city,” said Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown.

The job description for Gollub’s post in Sarasota will be similar to his job in South Carolina.

A main goal for Sarasota’s new downtown economic development coordinator is to try to keep businesses from moving to other commercial districts — including The Mall at University Town Center that broke ground in October.

The new economic coordinator will also be responsible for implementing strategies to increase the number of businesses and jobs downtown, bringing market-rate apartments for working professionals and overseeing an effort to add a pharmacy downtown.

Costs associated with the position are funded by three organizations — with the city contributing $40,000; the DID contributing $25,000; and the chamber’s “Sarasota Tomorrow” fund contributing $25,000.

While in Greenville, Gollub also managed district funding and supervised a downtown streetscape program.

For the past seven years, Gollub was a principal at his planning consultant firm in Portland, Ore. focusing on economic development and urban design for public and private clients. One of Gollub’s projects included securing funding grants and forming downtown revitalization strategies for Cascade Locks, Ore.

One big challenge is that Gollub will not have access to funding to do much more than conduct studies, said downtown advocate and DID president Ernie Ritz.

Such past improvements as bringing Whole Foods downtown or building Five Points Park all took accessible funds.

Although securing money in the current economic climate won’t be easy, Queior said Gollub has experience in grant writing and advocating for funding beyond the city.

And some changes or “new ways of looking at things” won’t cost much, Queior noted.

Gollub and his wife will move to Sarasota in January.

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