Pickerington's economic-development services director was dismissed last week, days after failing to inform city manager Bill Vance about a potential 250-job project.

Pickerington's economic-development services director was dismissed last week, days after failing to inform city manager Bill Vance about a potential 250-job project.

Susan Crotty was placed on paid administrative leave on March 22, and her employment was terminated, effective April 4.

City manager Bill Vance said in a press release that Pickerington will launch a national search for Crotty's replacement.

"We will be looking for a dynamic individual who will quickly jump into a leadership role in collaborative, regional efforts to bring new, quality jobs to Pickerington," Vance said.

According to Crotty's personnel file, her exodus came four days after being questioned as to why she failed to pass on information to Vance about an unnamed company's potential interest in developing the former Big Bear on Hill Road into a 250-person call center.

The personnel file, made available to ThisWeek on March 28, stated that Vance met with Crotty on March 18 because he had received word from Violet Township officials that there was an unknown party interested in the former Big Bear site.

On March 21, Vance issued a memo to Crotty asking why she failed to pursue the development lead or inform him of the potential project.

Crotty's written response said that Columbus 2020, a public-private organization that seeks to drive economic development in central Ohio, requested information about sites in the region that would fit an unnamed client's business needs, but a broker for the project informed her the former Big Bear site was inadequate.

Crotty said she previously wasn't aware the city manager wished to be informed of such inquiries.

The personnel file shows Vance informed Crotty by letter on March 24 that she would be terminated on April 4.

Also on March 24, Crotty submitted her letter of resignation to Vance, effective April 4.

The dismissal was made public March 24, in a press release issued by Vance following the close of business that day. In it, he said he and Crotty lacked a shared vision for economic development.

"Since arriving at the city of Pickerington (July 1, 2010), I have pursued a proactive and energetic vision for our development services department," Vance stated in the release. "Unfortunately, the vision has not always been shared.

"Therefore, I have made the decision to move forward with the search for a new economic-development leader who will work aggressively to put Pickerington at the forefront of central Ohio's efforts to bring new business growth and development to our city."

As economic-development services director, Crotty was charged with leading business recruitment, retention and expansion efforts for Pickerington. The director also develops tax and other incentive packages designed to bolster local development.

She was paid $68,000 annually by the city upon being appointed to the vacant post by then-acting city manager and Pickerington Police Chief Mike Taylor. At the time of her appointment, there were no other candidates for the job and the position was not advertised by the city.

In January, Crotty's annual salary was increased to $75,000 after she was assigned the duties of the city's planning and zoning director, a position Vance chose not to fund in 2011, citing budgetary constraints.

Reached by phone on March 25, Crotty declined to comment on events that led to her dismissal.

"Every manager has the right to have (his or her) own management team, and Bill Vance has exercised that option," she said. "He'll have to answer anything further."

Vance said Crotty failed to buy into his "aggressive local government development vision."

"Individuals working for any organization can have conflicting visions, but in this case, conflict did not serve the best interests of Pickerington," Vance said.

"Susan Crotty is a dedicated and hard worker. Nobody put in more hours at the office than Susan Crotty, but that was not translating into a shared development services vision between the developmen-services director and this city manager," he said. "This fact was holding back our collective progress in creating new ways in which we could benefit a city like Pickerington, which is successfully reinventing itself as a place that sincerely appreciates and embraces the consideration of all development proposals."

Crotty served as Pickerington's economic-development director from July 1999 to May 2005, before leaving to become development coordinator from 1996 to 2008 for Columbus Urban Growth Corp., a tax-supported, nonprofit agency that led inner-city Columbus redevelopment projects.

Crotty left Columbus Urban Growth in July 2008 to become deputy director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Office of Workforce Development, until she resigned in October 2009. She said she left the agency because of leadership changes there. Ohio DJFS officials declined to discuss her exit from the agency, citing department policy for former employees.

Crotty also is a former Obetz economic development director.

"I'm fortunate to have a long and varied work history, which could take me in a lot of different directions," she said. "I think I'm going to take a look at where I want to go with my career and explore all opportunities.

"I wish everyone in Pickerington the very best."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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