Thursday, November 26, 2020

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Colusa fills economic development, tourism director position

Kristy Levings

The Colusa City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 4 to keep the city’s contracted economic development strategist on as a full-time employee.

Kristy Levings, principal of Golden Oak Business Services, was one of three applicants for the newly authorized position of Economic Development, Communications and Tourism Director, and was one of two individuals that went before an interview panel for their recommendation.

Levings has worked with Colusa for several years and was contracted in January to help transform the old Pirelli Cable plant into a hub for the biomaterial industry.

Levings was originally recruited for the position by City Manager Jesse Cain in July, but the council thought it best to source talent through open recruitment first.

Cain, this time around, was not directly involved in the selection process. Instead, the City’s contract engineer, David Swartz, conducted the interviews, along with Colusa business owners Dave Hoblit, Carolee Ornbaun, and Former Mayor John Rogers.

Levings did not disappoint, and earned the committee’s recommendation to the City Council by unanimous decision.

“Some of the work (Levings) has done was in a community similar to Colusa, and (she) is highly regarded,” Swartz said.

Levings is a rural economic development specialist with a long history of government service and business experience. She was the Program Director for agriculture-based economic development initiatives in Yolo County from 2012 to 2017, and Program Director for AgStart, a non-profit business incubator program focused on agtech start-ups.

Levings also served a two-year stint as the chief operating officer of CompassLeaf, a cannabis startup company that was among the first companies to pitch cannabis manufacturing in Colusa.

She started Golden Oaks in 2019, and, in addition to the Pirelli project, has been working with the Colusa City Council on economic development for downtown Colusa, which she will continue as a full-time staffer.

The starting annual salary for the position is $96,000 plus benefits, which is about 10 percent below what Cain originally proposed to the City Council earlier this year.

As with all Colusa department heads, Levings will report monthly to the City Council on all activities and accomplishments.

Levings assumes the position on Dec. 1, and will continue many of the activities she is currently working on as a consultant, particularly creating new business ventures, revenue streams, and grant opportunities for the city.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about increasing the quality of life for Colusa citizens,” Levings said. “For me, that looks like pursuing around $20 million in grant funding for various City projects, getting the Pirelli building rehabilitated and launching the Colusa BioInnovation Center, supporting various existing community events and introducing new ones as needed, establishing a stronger City of Colusa brand identity, activate significant marketing strategies, raising our profile with select tourism markets, implementing various projects we’re on track to win money for, help businesses to start, grow or survive with personalized services, fill empty storefronts, pursue site selection for new grocery and hotel assets, support strategic infrastructure advances such as street repairs, new police station, recreation opportunities and more.”

As with all Colusa department heads, Levings will report monthly to the City Council on all activities and accomplishments.

Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker is the Editor and Reporter for the Pioneer Review. She started her position with the Pioneer Review in January 2017 as the Advertising Manager. Susan specializes in local crime, government reporting. She also loves covering the various topics and events in our county. You can send her a message at susan@colusacountynews.net

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