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Palm Coast Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 2 years ago

Palm Coast seeks 'head of innovation and economic growth' to drive tech and economic development initiatives

City Councilman Nick Klufas suggested the council also take a more active role in pushing for tech upgrades.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Municipal broadband expansion, adaptive traffic light synchronization, real-time water metering, developing a downtown technological innovation district, adding wind speed sensors at city facilities, live-streaming matches at city sports facilities — all are potential changes City Councilman Nick Klufas can envision moving Palm Coast forward. 

The city is hiring for a new economic development chief — the official title is "Head of Innovation and Economic Growth" — and Klufas, speaking toward the end of a city workshop Nov. 28, highlighted the importance of finding the right kind of person.

"These are all things that deal specifically with technology, and I wanted to talk to council and the mayor about the additional position that's not the city manager role — the economic position," Klufas said. "Perhaps we want to gear that towards a chief technology solutions officer or something, where we can specifically try to target someone who'll be able to drive initiative for driving our city into the future."

But he worried that that might prove difficult. 

"I really think that we might be struggling here in the future to find that Elon Musk-slash-Warren Buffet in one person," Klufas said. He suggested the council take a more active approach in driving the tech initiatives. 

"I think I am in complete agreement with you," Mayor Milissa Holland said. 

Very few economic development directors, Holland said, "are coming from the mindset of creating a new energy around a community" that could draw in a younger population.

"I think that that's something I feel should be a priority," she said. "I've heard it from every council member when we're looking at job creation."

Holland would prefer to have an economic development director who's looking at innovation, she said. 

"I think it's going to be someone very unique and very special that we are able to bring in or attract that has that capability," she said. 

The city's current IT staff, Holland noted, maintain the city's current infrastructure; they're not tasked with innovation. 

City Manager Jim Landon said the new "head of innovation and economic growth" would need to be tech-savvy.

"And I will tell you, I think it needs to be a young person," he said. "It needs to be someone who is more geared towards where we're headed in the future and not someone that's been doing it for the last 40 years the old fashioned way."


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