TALLMADGE — The city’s new planning director and economic developer arrived just in time.
“I just completed my first week on the job, and I came in to help with city’s economic objectives,” said Matt Springer. “This coronavirus is not something I anticipated. This morning we discussed small businesses and how to help. That plan is evolving as we speak and changing rapidly.”
Springer’s job is to help support local businesses, bring economic development to the community with economic opportunities, job creation, facility job growth and brownfield redevelopment efforts which takes underperforming commercial sites and the city figures out how to improve those properties.
“As I get more familiar with the community and different properties, each will have unique approaches,” Springer said.
Springer said he looks forward to learning more about the JEDD with Brimfield.
“There’s quite a bit of activity out there,” Springer said. “I will meet with them and figure out their priorities and goals and familiarize myself with that area.”
Springer worked in Copley for 12 years in the Montrose market where there has been an explosion of development for the past 20 years.
“There are some similarities between Montrose and Brimfield’s JEDD area near the interstate,” he said. “There will be a lot of the opportunities there.”
He was the executive director for the Copley Community Improvement Corporation and was director of community and economic development in Copley Township since 2017. He was planning director of Copley Township from 2012 through 2016.
Springer said he oversaw the CIC and in Montrose it dealt with land acquisition and getting underperforming sites onto the market to create jobs and for redevelopment efforts.
“As I learn and grow into this position, I’ll know how I’ll fit in the city’s picture and take it to the next level,” he said.
Springer graduated from Grace College in Indiana and earned his master’s of public administration and urban planning from the University of Akron.
Springer, 39, is married to Hannah and they have three children, Gracie, 11, Quinn, 9, and Kenzie, 5. They enjoy hiking in the Metro Parks and being outdoors.
Mayor David Kline said the city began searching six months ago and let others know they were looking for an economic development director to replace Rita Weinberg, who retired at the end of 2019.
Kline, who volunteers as a member of the Summit County Planning and Zoning Commission, listens to township representatives present changes to the commission for approval.
“Matt was in Copley Township, and I interacted with him at that level when he presented projects,” Kline said. “I’ve known Matt for two years and liked what he was doing and how he interacted. I made it known to him I was looking [for an economic development director] and things worked out from that point.”
Springer has been helping the city in spite of the coronavirus restrictions, Kline said.
“It’s hard we can’t do face-to-face visits, but he’s working on files, projects and updating our zoning code, which he did in his previous job.”
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.