Matt Skelton, director of the Economic and Community Development Dept., said the department’s name change shows how Westfield government is always adapting.
“The name change has been a good starting point. Economic development is a strong focus in our department,and it’s not just because of our economy. Westfield, in a relative sense, is doing very well,” Skelton said. “But we see urban planning having more and more focus in economic development, nationally.
Skelton said the department is cued in to what the private sector needs and wants, and it catersits business process to those needs.
“The private sector is investing money in Westfield, and they don’t measure success until they’ve generated revenue,” Skelton said. “Often, we’re just the thing they have to do in order to get to where they really want to be. So, this changes our focus to more match its focus.”
Just as economic development has broadened the employees’ knowledge, the major community developments, such as Grand Park, have introduced an entirely different type of handling community development.
“Our urban planners are also in the economic development business; they really are cross-disciplined,” Skelton said. “Wherever a project goes, they go. Unlike a lot of places, we don’t have the planning commission guy and the council guy. Wherever that project goes, that team member follows.”
Skelton said community development projects like Grand Park have required inspectors to adapt for the future of Westfield. Skelton added training the inspectors as the community develops is one of the department’s initiatives for the year.
“We want to make sure building inspectors are trained and prepared for what’s about to happen with Grand Park. The kinds of projects we have percolating now aren’t the kinds of things they’re used to,” Skelton said. “Helping inspectors adapt to inspecting places, such as indoor sports facilities when they typically inspect homes and businesses,is a whole different type of beast for them. “
Carrie Cason, City of Westfield spokesperson, said the department’s well-rounded employees and the department’s ability to adapt quickly makes city government run smoothly.
“If I need a question answered about community or economic development, I can call anybody and anybody knows the answer. That’s a huge thing for me,” Cason said. “It’s a good way of doing business, and it’s good customer service,” Cason said.
By Lindsay Eckert