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Milwaukee County picks Whaley-Smith for economic development job (UPDATE)

By Beth Kevit

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele named Teig Whaley-Smith, founder of Milwaukee-based Community Development Advocates LLC, as the county’s next economic development director.

Whaley-Smith will begin April 15. If confirmed by the board of supervisors, the appointment is expected to last through 2016 and come with an $89,000-per-year salary.

Whaley-Smith said he plans to start by ensuring the county close on deals already announced. Abele said the county is still waiting to receive clear title on the Downtown Transit Center, which Milwaukee developer Rick Barrett wants to demolish and replace with a 44-story, mixed-use building.

Brendan Conway, Abele’s director of communications, said the county plans to reissue a request for proposals for a parcel in the Park East after Whaley-Smith starts work.

Brian Taffora, who previously held the position and left in December, had a yearly salary of $80,000. Taffora left after the board eliminated his position and reinstated it under a different title based on the board’s objection to him living outside Milwaukee County. Abele said the increase in salary was necessary to make the position competitive.

The county’s real estate manager, agent and administrative specialist left the county shortly after Taffora. Conway said the agent and administrative specialist were replaced in the last six weeks, and the county is still looking for a new manager.

Whaley-Smith said he hoped to have a good relationship with the supervisors. Abele emphasized that the board’s role in development is limited to the beginning of a deal, when land is put on the market, and at the end, when a finalized deal is approved.

Supervisor Pat Jursik, chairwoman of the board’s Economic and Community Development Committee, said she did not expect Whaley-Smith’s appointment to meet opposition. She said she has not met with him yet but is impressed that his resume includes both commercial and residential development experience as well as a law degree.

“He’s got all the right pieces together on that resume,” she said.

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