Lake Orion DDA board hires new executive director

DDA board creates, fills assistant executive director position

By Jim Newell
Managing Editor
LAKE ORION — Lake Orion has a new Downtown Development Authority executive director, and a new assistant executive director, who will lead the DDA through a challenging period of growth and development, DDA board members said
The Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors voted 6-0 on Feb. 20 to hire Matt Gibb as the new DDA executive director and Janet Bloom as the assistant executive director. Board members Sally Medina, Hank Lorant, Sam Caruso, Jerry Narsh, Alaina Campbell and Lloyd Coe voted in favor of the hirings. Board members Chris Barnett and Matt Shell were absent from the meeting.
The hirings and compensation packages will now be presented to the Lake Orion Village Council during its March 11 meeting for review.
Gibb is a familiar face in the Orion community. Besides being a longtime resident, Gibb is a former Orion Township supervisor, a former deputy Oakland County executive during L. Brooks Patterson’s administration and is a practicing attorney.
“We have an incredible downtown. In order to have the type of economic development that we have going on, you need exceptional people to steer that through. I’ve known Mr. Gibb for many, many years,” Narsh said. “This is an individual, who with his talents alone and his outreach and his phone book, if you will, his connections, is going to be very good for what we have ahead of us.”
Bloom has been serving as interim director since former DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone’s departure on Dec. 15.
“I am extremely excited that Matt Gibb is going to be our new executive director and very excited that Janet will be our assistant director. I am thoroughly pleased that we have the skills that we need to move the organization forward, but also, most importantly, to tackle the projects we have before us that are critical for our downtown,” Campbell said.
DDA board members hope Gibb’s legal experience helps defray some of the legal costs the DDA incurs. He will also oversee the Lake Orion Lumber Yard redevelopment project that the DDA is currently working on, which includes leveling the site and creating extra parking in the village.
The DDA board restructured staff “to ensure we are sufficiently staffed managing the upcoming extraordinary development activities in the DDA district, especially the DDA’s own development of the Lake Orion Lumber Yard project,” said board Vice Chair Sam Caruso.
The multi-year lumber yard project plans also include installing a pavilion and offering businesses the opportunity to build on the site with fees going back to the DDA to help pay the $5 million bond the DDA took out to redevelop the site.
The board approved a compensation package of $80,000 for Gibb and $71,000 for Bloom.
To pay Bloom’s salary, the board eliminated the events coordinator position, $36,000, and terminated their contract with the DDA’s outside marketing firm, a cost of $35,000. Bloom and Gibb will also forgo village benefits and instead receive a $6,000 stipend payment.
With the upcoming projects and business and residential growth in the village, DDA board members said adding an assistant executive director is a necessity. Among other responsibilities, Bloom will handle the marketing and the events for the DDA.
It also serves as a transition plan, with Bloom in place to succeed Gibb when he leaves the DDA.
“This role will allow the DDA to have a succession plan in place for a seamless transition when the executive director leaves the DDA,” Caruso said. “This is a best practice and will better equip the DDA to handle future changes.”

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