Gahanna development director Anthony Jones resigned Sept. 3 to pursue international opportunities after working 11 years for the city.

Mayor Tom Kneeland said Jones had a dream to partner with his wife in a new business venture that focuses on international economic development.

Deputy development director Michael Blackford said Jones is doing consulting work, and he's in Tanzania on the east coast of Africa.

"After that, he'll be in Macedonia," Blackford said. "He's focusing on international opportunities, but he'll be doing work here in the states, as well."

Kneeland said Jones was a fantastic development director who was committed to creating new jobs, new private investment, new revenue streams for the city and was protective of public money used for economic development.

"During his time in Gahanna he made great strides opening up new development projects in areas like Tech Center Drive, as well as a number of new capital investment projects by private developers in our office, commerce and technology areas," he said. "I'm proud to say in the last 3 1/2 years we've seen growth of 2,976 new well-paying jobs, and $176.5 million in new commercial capital investment that helps our city, our schools and our fire department."

Kneeland said he will greatly miss Jones' business knowledge, expertise and professionalism.

"I believe we'll read about him and his successes in the future as his company grows," he said.

In Jones' Aug. 16 resignation letter submitted to Kneeland, he thanked the mayor for his leadership.

"I have grown both personally and professionally under your tenure and throughout my 11-year career with the city of Gahanna," Jones wrote. "I have been given an exciting opportunity to advance my career within the international economic-development industry."

After strong consideration, Jones said, he decided to pursue that opportunity.

Jones was promoted to Gahanna's development director following the retirement of Sadicka White in 2011.

He began working for the city on June 18, 2008.

Before coming to Gahanna, Jones served for two years as an economic development specialist for the city of Toledo, where he worked to revitalize the city's downtown.

Kneeland said the plan is for Blackford to cover the planning and development director's role, the economic-development manager's role and his own duties as deputy director of planning and development.

"I wanted to allow the new administration to freely make choices without having a person in the director's position, since it is a key strategic position for the city as we continue to grow," Kneeland said.

Kneeland's term will expire at the end of the year, and he decided not to seek reelection.

Laurie Jadwin, executive director of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Ryan Jolley, who works for the city in the department of public service and engineering, are running for mayor this November.

Blackford was hired as Gahanna's deputy director of planning and development March 24, 2014.

He previously worked as a planner in St. Augustine, Florida.

Blackford also was employed as a planning and zoning manager for almost 10 years in St. Johns County in Florida.

Gahanna's administration has asked city council to approve a higher hourly pay rate for Blackford, from $43.60 to $45.78, for the remainder of the year for his increased responsibilities.

The request doesn't require a transfer of funds, as salary savings exist in the department of planning and development's salary budget from the director's departure, city officials said.

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