Violet Township has named Robin Duffee to lead its business recruitment and retention efforts.
Duffee, who worked as a development intern for the township from May to August 2018 before being hired on a part-time basis, has been promoted to the full-time development manager’s position.
The three township trustees voted unanimously Jan. 22 to promote Duffee .
He replaces Holly Mattei, who was township development director from April 2017 until her resignation Dec. 20.
“I’m thrilled to be in this position,” Duffee said.
“It’s been my privilege to work in this community almost two years now, and I look forward to serving in my new role.”
Duffee will focus on attracting new businesses, as well as retaining businesses and helping them expand.
A job description for the position states the development manager “... has considerable interface with all township personnel and other government agencies, as well as the development and business community, including serving as the primary contact person and information resource for existing businesses and may serve as the initial contact for developers, entrepreneurs and new small businesses.”
Ed Drobina, who became township administrator Jan. 6, said Duffee’s duties would largely be the same as those handled by Mattei.
Mattei resigned as development director Dec. 5. Her last day with the township was Dec. 20.
“I felt it was important to have a staff member to answer questions concerning development, and to attend (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission), (Fairfield) 33 Alliance and (Violet Township) Port Authority meetings,” Drobina said.
Although the roles will be similar, Duffee is a development “manager,” whereas Mattei was a development “director.”
At the time of her resignation, Mattei, 42, received an annual salary of $85,696. She also received benefits, which although not part of her salary, cost the township $74,640 annually.
Duffee, who is 30 and has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Ohio State University, will be paid $52,000 annually. His employee benefits information wasn’t immediately available.
“I felt that manager was a better title for the position due to his experience and job duties,” Drobina said. “He will not have any employees below him, so he won’t be directing anyone.
“However, he will be assisting other departments and outside organizations. So, he will be helping with the management of several different activities.”
In addition to representing the township at local and regional meetings that involve economic and community development, Drobina said he expects Duffee to work this year to enhance promotion of the Wigwam Event Center.
The township announced in June 2018 it was purchasing the Wigwam retreat, 10190 Blacklick-Eastern Road N.W., for $2.7 million from the family of the late businessman and longtime Columbus Dispatch publisher John F. Wolfe.
The 63-acre property became the township’s administrative office headquarters in July 2019, and features a 303-seat theater and 400-person banquet hall.
“We want to keep the facility rented out as much as possible for weddings, conferences, corporate retreats,” Drobina said. “Robin will be assisting with the advertising of the facility.”
The township intends to develop 10 acres of green space at the Wigwam property for commercial and a mix of business uses.
“We are definitely targeting a hotel, upscale restaurants and professional offices,” Mattei said last July.
Township board of trustees chairman Terry Dunlap said the development of the land can’t take place until additional service roads are constructed to create access to the businesses that would be built.
That infrastructure isn’t likely to be constructed for two to three years, he said, after the Ohio Department of Transportation designs a U.S. Route 33 to Interstate 70 connector near Allen Road.
In the meantime, Duffee will be involved courting potential projects for the site while working with Fairfield County and ODOT officials to bring forward a 33-70 connector.
“As widening and the improvement of I-70 moves east, that’s when the Wigwam access would be built,” Dunlap said.
“When that happens, that’ll open doors for improvements, and the state to be involved in the project.
“We have to wait until the state does their thing until we can do our thing. That’s (the 33-70 connector) not going to happen this year, but there’s a lot of people talking and looking.”
Duffee said he’s excited to get more involved in all of the township’s development initiatives.
He said the Wigwam, which the township is financing by paying back bonds, will be a top priority for him in 2020.
“First and foremost, Ed Drobina and I will be working to maximize the community and economic value of the Wigwam property,” Duffee said.