Tonawanda News — The man credited with bringing millions in state and federal funding to North Tonawanda will leave his post by the end of next week.
Jim Sullivan, executive director of the Lumber City Development Corp. and North Tonawanda Community Development, will retire, leaving behind a gaping hole in the city’s development arm.
Mayor Rob Ortt said the search is already on to find a replacement for Sullivan, though it will not be an easy task.
Sullivan has a wealth of experience and connections dating back decades and has been integral in helping the city piece together the
measured rebirth of the downtown corridor as well as areas along the Erie Canal and Niagara River.
Sullivan was brought in 10 years ago by former mayor David Burgio, and was viewed as a high profile hire from the get-go, with roughly three decades already under his belt including time with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
Joyce Santiago, executive director of the North Tonawanda Chamber of Commerce, called Sullivan’s time in the city “invaluable,” while Mayor Rob Ortt said “the bar has been set high with Jim.”
Sullivan and Ortt have been conducting interviews to find a replacement, with a surge of 22 applicants in recent weeks, though the two have narrowed the field down to five.
“I think everybody understands his value,” Ortt said. “He brings 40 years of econonmic development. You’ll never replace Jim Sullivan.”
Sullivan’s role as head of the community development group has brought in several million dollars in the past year alone for projects such as a vacant marina property on River Road, improvements along Webster Street and a brownfield site on Tonawanda Island, much of that through the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.
He’s also been a key player in the multi-million dollar Remington Lofts development, which is viewed as a signature project that could have wide-ranging implications in further business development, as the city attempts to move away from its industrial past and focus on enticing people to its waterfront.
“Jim’s done more for NT than a lot of folks who have lived here forever,” Ortt said. “When you look at the impact he’s had economically, he’s been involved with almost every major project in the city.”
LCDC, which offers loans and business opportunities to entities interested in setting up shop in the city, is a private endeavor, though often interchangeably linked to the North Tonawanda Community Development group serving as the city’s funding arm.
Ortt said the person hired to replace Sullivan would be brought in to run the private-public partnership. Sullivan did not return repeated calls for comment Thursday.
“We’re going to get the right person,” Ortt said. “Somebody who is good for the city and taxpayers of North Tonawanda.”
at 693-1000, ext. 4115.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.