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City’s economic/redevelopment manager quits

Steve Art’s last day is Jan. 14
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Steve Art, the city’s economic and redevelopment manager, will soon have a change of scenery. Art has accepted the position of economic development and urban renewal manager for the city of Wheat Ridge, Colo., according to a press release e-mailed Monday by the city’s public information officer Jill Thompson. As Lincoln’s economic and redevelopment manager, Art said he has worked to attract, retain and expand businesses in Lincoln, as well as help the prosperity of existing businesses, remove blight and bring in affordable housing. The city reported in August 2010 that Art earns a salary of $101,155.60. That doesn’t include benefits. Art’s last day with Lincoln is Jan. 14. He will start in Wheat Ridge the first week of February. An anonymous source told The News Messenger last week that Art “was either leaving the city or was going to be laid off.” When asked by The News Messenger on Dec. 29 if he was leaving the city or being pushed out of his job, Art said he had “no plans” to leave. “I have no intentions of leaving,” Art said. “Nor do I feel I’m being pushed out.” But Lincoln City Councilman Stan Nader told The News Messenger on Tuesday that Art mentioned “his job was on the line” during a meeting Nader and Art had last month. On Monday, Art said he found out he got the Colorado job “about two hours after” The News Messenger called him Dec. 29. When asked Tuesday by The News Messenger if Art was pushed out of his position with the city, City Manager Jim Estep said no. Estep said Art’s position “will not be filled immediately,” using in-house employees for work that would have been done by Art. Nader said he understood why Art looked for another job. “If I knew my job was on the line, I’d be trying to see if there were other opportunities so it was good he was able to find one,” Nader said. “My recommendation would be that as important as that position is, we should have existing staff fill that position.” Art has served as Lincoln’s first economic and redevelopment manager since Jan. 2001, according to Thompson. Art said he has “been looking for a new job a little over a year” and the economy was a factor. “Economic uncertainty was the biggest reason. (Also) not knowing if this position would be funded,” Art said. “But at no point did anyone tell me ‘You have to leave.’ It was my feeling.” Art developed a marketing plan that “helped attract new developments including the Raley’s, Home Depot/Target and Lowe’s shopping centers,” and also “led the efforts for the city to be named an All-America City in 2006,” according to Thompson. He has also worked with the historic Downtown District “in beautification efforts, event management and creating a bond with downtown merchants,” Thompson said.