City makes good move with Dickens

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 11, 2008

The city’s decision to invest in a paid economic development director was a wise one.

It followed that with another. It hired Bill Dickens.

“After four months on the job, I feel the city is in dire need of an economic development director to entice and recruit business,” Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said. “Mr. Dickens has taken that position and will be starting April 21.”

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Dickens will give up his position as a grant writer and Title IV coordinator for the county court system. He will also step down as the chairman of the Ironton Port Authority — a post that will be filled by Mike Haas — but he will remain on the IPA board.

The performance of the IPA, a group made up strictly of volunteers, speaks for itself. Its contributions to the city’s development efforts have been substantial and Dickens’ role as chairman has been influential.

He now takes his expertise with grant writing and his familiarity with state and federal lawmakers into his new role with the city. It is a role that Dickens believes will pay dividends for the city.

“It makes a lot of sense for me to move over to the city. I’m doing it for a very nominal amount ($18,000 a year),” Dickens said. “That’s because I have other sources of income and I am committed to revitalizing Ironton. I am optimistic that I can do more for the city in that capacity than I can as IPA (chairman).”

Blankenship said the working relationship the two have already established with be beneficial.

“Prospective businesses would call me and I would have to call him,” Blankenship said. “A lot of times business is handed over to the IPA so this will benefit us because he will be right here in our building and we will have daily contact with him on what progress is being made.”

As important as it was for the city to make a financial commitment to this important aspect of the city’s growth, it was equally important to make sure it had the right person in the job.

The city got it right with Bill Dickens.