Sealy City Council members last week authorized new Economic Development Corp. director Robert Worley to hire an executive assistant.
City officials emphasized that the assistant is needed because so many new businesses want to locate in Sealy, creating a heavy workload to manage. Prospects include industrial, retail and housing developments.
“I will essentially be training this person to be an economic developer,” Worley said, explaining that the position would entail much more than administrative duties and already has been approved by the EDC board. “We’re not going to require that they have any economic development experience. With a few months of training and possibly next fiscal year when we can get that in the budget, we may send this person to the Economic Development 101 course. This is needed because, in order for us to take the EDC to the next level and deal with the many prospects that are already here knocking on the door, I simply need help.”
Worley said he also assists prospective new businesses in assuring that they have the proper infrastructure – including roads, water lines and sewer lines – before they begin construction in Sealy.
“We deal with virtually all the aspects of construction,” he said. “When I’m not in the office, we usually miss things. It’s getting to the point, even after this short period of time, that we’re getting so many prospects and they’re advancing through the process relatively fast, that I just need the help.”
Councilwoman Jennifer Sullivan suggested that the pay rate be in line with other administrative assistants and court clerks on the city payroll, which is roughly between $15 and $23 per hour.
“I’ve looked at their skills, knowledge and experience needed and they are in line, if not more, than the list here, so I think it would be more fair if they were compatible.”
Councilwoman Dee Anne Lerma, a member of the EDC board, disagreed, noting that the position is expected to be more than “an admin person.”
“It’s not going to be someone to answer phones and file papers; it’s really more an extension of Robert,” she said. “I see it as someone at a higher level than an admin.”
Sullivan countered that court clerks “don’t just answer phones and things like that.”
“They have to have legal knowledge,” she said.
Worley said he did not want to start the position at the bottom of the pay scale.
“If we get the right person, over the course of a year, this person is really going to be the assistant economic developer, almost a deputy executive director,” he said. “I expect to get someone sharp enough to do that and advance way beyond the clerical part of this.”
Worley added that he wants to offer an annual salary of around $40,000.
Councilman John Hinze said he wanted to look at the “long-range perspective” of the new position.
“If Robert decides to retire somewhere down the road, we’d already have a trained EDC person to step in and help us,” he said. “I think it’s a good opportunity.”