LIMA — Mayor David Berger has asked the Allen Economic Development Group (AEDG) to work closely with the city’s Finance Director Steve Cleaves to shore up a lack of communication between the two entities.
Berger’s request came just days after he called for the end of “this political theater” in regards to disagreements between the city and the county and AEDG concerning the efficiency of the city’s building department.
“My sense is that while there has been, for whatever reasons, a certain set of breakdowns in communication, the better course — the best course — is for us to continue to commit to partnerships and collaborations,” Berger said. “So I have asked Steve to actually become personally engaged with AEDG in an intensive way.”
AEDG CEO/President Jeff Sprague responded to the initiative in an emailed statement:
“I have already reached out to Steve Cleaves and expressed my desire to work closely with him to promote business investment and job creation opportunities for the city of Lima. We greatly look forward to Steve being actively involved with our team.”
Cleaves said his past experience in the private sector as well as his current position in the city’s administration would allow him to ease collaboration between the two entities.
“I expect them, that they will welcome it,” Cleaves said. “They know what they’re doing, and well, I know they’re aware of my background — I don’t know how detailed. I think they’ll see it as a positive.”
Cleaves joined Berger’s administration in 2002 as interim finance director after retiring from a private sector position negotiating and reviewing international joint venture agreements for Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest integrated oil company at the time.
Cleaves will still maintain his position with the city as finance director, but a portion of his time would be spent working with AEDG, he said.
“I think that there are immediate issues. We want to clarify what they are and attend to them, and if there are long term issues, we to also figure out the best ways we can sustain a collaboration,” Berger said.
In a related statement, AEDG restated its goals as an organization:
“It is the mission of the Allen Economic Development Group to create an environment for new business development, to promote and nurture existing business and to facilitate the creation of new jobs in Allen County.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.