LYONS — Kathleen “Katie” Bronson said she was plenty happy working at a non-profit housing and community development organization in Syracuse when she saw a job posting for the deputy director position in the Wayne County Department of Planning and Economic Development.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job,” said Bronson. “I thought, ‘This is what I’m looking for. This is what I like to do.’”
Bronson fills the position formerly held by Sherry Handel, who left last June for personal reasons. Before coming to Wayne County, Bronson spent four years at Home Headquarters Inc., where she was director of community housing initiatives.
“It (the job posting) was out there for a while,” said Brian Pincelli, director of economic development and planning. “We got resumes from people all over the country. Katie’s resume really stood out. She had lots of different experiences and a grad degree.”
Bronson’s experience also includes directing an Albany land bank, as well as several planning positions for municipalities.
All those experiences match the types of things Pincelli said make her a great fit in his office.
“Katie has experience in both economic development and planning,” Pincelli said. “She’s already doing it.”
Bronson started in mid-January, and Pincelli said she is off to an impressive start.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “She has hit the ground running. Katie has picked things up rather quickly.”
Bronson is happy with her new job.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “I enjoy going to work each day. It’s going great. I feel I’m getting my feet wet with the PILOTS (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements) and on the Brownfield Feasibility Study.”
Pincelli explained that the county is doing an inventory survey of brownfields, which are contaminated properties that are eligible for remediation funds. Once cleaned up, the properties can be redeveloped.
Bronson’s housing background will serve the county well in a study assessing Wayne’s affordable housing stock, said Pincelli, noting that Bronson and other staff are preparing a grant application to fund the project.
As part of her duties, Bronson will be named chief financial officer of the Industrial Development Agency and Economic Development Corporation, two agencies connected with the county’s economic development office.
Bronson likes that planning and economic development are part of one office in Wayne County.
“I saw the diversity of programs and resources and the innovative approach to assisting small business in Wayne County,” she said.
She added that she really loves the county.
“I like the people and the community,” she said. “Everybody around here (in Lyons) says hello. It’s a very friendly environment.”
She said her co-workers in the economic development office also have been welcoming.
Pincelli said he took Bronson for a tour around the county to give her an idea of the breadth of the Wayne County business community — from high-tech manufacturers such as IEC and Optimax to leaders in the food products industry such as Baldwin Richardson Foods and Mott’s.
“What I saw here was growth,” said Bronson.
“It’s not that sleepy of a county,” added Pincelli.
He said the department “didn’t hit the pause button” during the vacancy period — including pulling off its first startup pitch competition — but admitted that it’s “nice to have help with the day-to-day things” that come with running the office, as well as taking on new initiatives designed to encourage job creation.