By Sue Botos
Rocky River economic and community development Director Kory Koran will be retiring from his job at the end of the month according to Mayor Pam Bobst. She added that, at least for the time being, the position will remain vacant.
A variety of considerations contributed to the departure and the subsequent elimination of the director’s post, according to Bobst, but she told West Life that ultimately, “It was my decision and it was difficult.”
Bobst added that she and building Commissioner Kevin Beirne as well as assistant Kate Straub will be sharing Koran’s former duties.
Koran offered no details in a brief response to an e-mail from West Life.
“There are a lot of exciting opportunities in community development,” Bobst said, indicating that the emphasis in the future will be more on the neighborhood aspect than the economic component. “We will contact the county and see how other communities engage in community development,” she stated. Bobst said there is also the possibility of hiring outside economic consultants when needed.
According to information provided by the Cuyahoga County Department of Development website (www.development.cuyahogacounty.us) most county municipalities have an economic development director or a similarly titled individual. However, a few, such as Chagrin Falls and Seven Hills have the mayor listed as the economic development contact. In Bay Village, Director of Community Services Deborah Bock serves in the role.
Koran became the city’s first director of economic and community development in May of 2002, coming from the city of Euclid, where he held a similar position. He has a degree in urban planning and design from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture and Art. He also is an alumnus of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a certified economic development finance professional and past President of Ohio Conference of Community Development Officials. Koran was also serving as the city representative to the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
In 2006, Koran was investigated after he was accused in the local media of using insider information to purchase business property in the city for $150,000 after the seller had originally paid $400,000. The query was dropped, according to a July 2006 West Life story, after Koran’s offer was determined by Law Director Andy Bemer to be fair and reasonable and free of privileged information.
While financial considerations were not the deciding factor in eliminating Koran’s position, the move will lighten the city budget by about $89,500 in salary, and $32,069 in benefits.
Bobst said that while she appreciates the work Koran has done for the city, she is “confident in (her) decision”.
“We are thankful for his contributions to the city, and the product of his work can be seen,” said Bobst, pointing out Koran’s part in securing grants and funding for such projects as the Old Detroit Road streetscape and the Linda Street renovations. “It was a team effort and Kory played a key role. We will honor that by continuing that work.”