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Last week at City Council we welcomed Bruce Chatterton as our City's first ever Director in our newly formed Community Development Department.  Bruce comes to us from the City of Boise where he has been the Director of Planning and Development Services since 2004, and was chosen after an exhaustive nationwide search that lasted more than 6 months.  We would not settle and wanted to find someone we knew would put Meridian first.  With more than 25 years of experience in the field in both Idaho and Florida, Bruce is well respected both locally and nationally and will be a great asset for our newly formed department.  Bruce will begin work on March 12th; we are glad he is joining our team and we are excited for the new perspective and experience he will bring to our City. 


The Community Development Department is a combination of our Planning Department and our Building and Development Services Division, and can now be found on the first floor of City Hall in the space that our Development Services has occupied since 2008.  By combining these two workgroups we are creating a one stop shop and enhancing our business friendly climate. 


We are committed to our business community, as they provide jobs and economical stability in our community. A 2010 Boise Valley Economic Partnership survey showed Meridian City’s development processes ranked an 8.5 out of 10 - 10 being the best.  Now that is good, but we should always be our own toughest critic.  Ramping up our efforts in the Community Development Department is a major component to cultivating exceptional customer service.  Additionally, we have convened a work group, led by small business owner Jason Monks and a local developer Ron Van Auker Jr., to help us identify what we can do to move the needle towards the 'ten'.  They are focusing in two specific areas; business processes for commercial development and strategies and tools to boost our entrepreneurial climate.   This will ultimately feed into one of my five priorities over the next four years which is to attract and grow family wage jobs.


We have seen business growth and job creation in Meridian with 12,500 new jobs and over 1,000 businesses in my first two terms.  Our community gained 500 jobs just last year, even during the downturn.  It is important that the jobs created are 'family-wage' jobs which is the focus of another work group, led by Rick Ritter, who not only look at job creation, but also our role in the Governor's Project 60.  They are focusing on attracting suppliers for current manufacturers and employers, helping business’s bottom-line by having their suppliers close, and, at the same time, attracting new businesses and jobs.


This group will also look at our industry clusters known as our Business Enterprise Corridors in an effort to replicate the success seen in The CORE, our health sciences and technology district along Eagle Road. By bringing together complimentary type businesses in other areas of our city we look forward to rolling out plans for The Fields District and our Public Safety District.


As you can see we have a lot going on in Meridian.  With Bruce joining our team in our Community Development Department, citizen focus groups lending their expertise, and the many opportunities in our community for job creation in areas I have noted as well as the Ten Mile region and Downtown, we have exciting times on the horizon.  I look forward to sharing future successes with you soon.