Your Elk Grove City Departments, Part III - Economic Development

In the coming months, the City of Elk Grove will discuss, unveil, and approve a budget of your tax dollars. In this series, we examine three departments within city hall whose function is not immediately obvious to the public.

In this third part, we look at the economic development department. This three-person department is headed by Darrell Doan and reports to the city manager. 

Economic development department - by the numbers

Total full-time employees - 3

Fiscal year salaries budgeted - $500,750

Operating budget - $1,015,407

Average salary of department employee (not including benefits) - $166,916

Elk Grove median income, 2017  -   $85,556

Total department budget FY 2019 - $1,516,157

Department budget from FY 2018 - $1,194,352

As noted above, this department is headed by Darrell Doan, economic development director. The other staff members are Rachael Brown, economic development program manager; and Luis Aguilar, economic development specialist. 

Below is a description of the department from the city's annual budget:

"The mission of the Economic Development Division is to ensure a robust and diverse economy that returns value to the City and its residents and is positioned to weather the ups and downs of the broader economy. The Economic Development Division operates within and follows the overall mission of the City Manager’s Office.

The Economic Development Division’s primary responsibilities are to assist existing businesses with their growth and expansion plans, identify and recruit prospective new businesses to the City, and work with the developer, brokerage, and tenant communities in order to facilitate high impact development and business recruitment projects. The overall goal of the Division is to attract capital investment to the City, grow the City’s commercial tax base, and attract jobs to the City across multiple industries at varying wages and skill levels. This is accomplished by, among other things, providing government liaison and business support services to existing and prospective businesses, engaging local, regional, and statewide economic development organizations, marketing the city as an exceptional business location, attendance at conferences and tradeshows, and direct meetings with existing and prospective businesses. The Division administers the City’s economic development incentive and financing programs, business retention and attraction programs, business recruitment activities, small business support programs, workforce development and provides entitlement and permit expediting services for high impact projects, among other activities." 

Job descriptions

Darrell Doan - economic development director
  • Pay range, net benefits; $130,149 - $174,412 annually
  • Under direction of the City Manager, the Economic Development Director plans, organizes, and directs the programs and activities of the City's economic development function; carries out the citywide economic development strategy; provides expert professional assistance to City management staff on economic development matters; selects, assigns, directs, and reviews work of staff; meets with a wide variety of officials, business organizations, and individuals, both public and private, concerning the work and goals of the City.
Rachael Brown - economic development program manager
Pay range, net benefits; $91,284 - $122,329 annually
Total compensation 2017 - $134,712
Under general supervision, performs a variety of duties which promote the City's economic development and redevelopment efforts with emphasis on recruiting and attracting new business and industry, the creation and management of information, and the retention of current business investments.

  • Luis Aguilar - economic development specialist 
  • Pay range, net benefits; $59,985 - $80,386 annually
  • Total compensation 2017 - information not available
  • Under general supervision, and reporting to the Economic Development Director, performs responsible administrative, technical, and program and project management duties in support of the City's economic development initiatives; duties may include, research and analysis; report and presentation preparation; special event planning; marketing and communications support; managing incentive programs; assisting businesses with startup, expansion, and relocation needs; contract review, preparation, and monitoring; special projects as assigned; coordination of projects and programs between City departments, outside agencies, and business and development partners and clients; administrative and technical tasks; perform related work as required.

  • Memorable expenditures & events:
Aside from perhaps the city attorney's office, under Doan's supervision, and ultimately former city manager Laura Gill, this department may have pulled Elk Grove city hall's biggest boner in recent years.

That boner we are referring to was the much-hyped March 2016 announcement that Elk Grove had achieved the big-time with the relocation of a Silicon Valley manufacturer to the city's Southeast Policy Area. Even though that company, NRC Manufacturing was a low end, low-tech, circuit board assembly subcontractor, it was heralded as a huge leap for the city.

Low and behold, NRC Manufacturing, which came to be known pejoratively in Elk Grove as Not Really Coming, lived up to its nickname and never really came to the SEPA, much less any space in the city. Doan admitted as much recently but tried to spin the loss as a gain in his widely mocked robust list of sales leads.

Even when the city scores a new employer, such as the 200-plus jobs planned in the city by Mi Rancho tortilla of San Leandro, Doan's crew cannot claim credit for landing that employer. Oh sure, once they learned about the relocation the red carpet was rolled out, but an examination of public records revealed their move to Elk Grove was based on the aggressive efforts of a commission-based Bay Area real estate broker representing the tortilla baker.

Another wasteful effort of Doan's came when he contracted with Birmingham, Alabama-based Retail Strategies for $50,000. Aside from Elk Grove taxpayers giving Doan license to be snookered by the Boy's From 'Bama, Elk Grove got nothing more than some boilerplate reports.

The Bobs' Assessment 

Economic development departments are like organization mission statements - every city of a certain size feels the necessity to have one, but once they are established they can become meaningless if the mission is void of achievements and accountability. Such is the case with Elk Grove's economic development department. 

The director of this department draws a hefty salary and rich benefits package from taxpayers yet has no meaningful achievements on which to justify its continued existence after being on the job for three years. To justify his continued employment, department head Doan practices chicanery like including 2,000 possible jobs at the proposed hospital in his report on the department's job development achievements.

As a cliché that might be worthy of Elk Grove Vice Mayor Pat Hume, this is not only a case of counting your chickens before they are hatched, this is counting eggs before they are laid. Nonetheless, given the symbiotic relationship between Doan, the city manager, and the city council, Doan will continue to feed at the public trough because his dismissal would be an admission by his supervisors that this department is a muddled mess.   

Given there could be a need for assistance at city hall when new business' come to town, one and a half full-time equivalents would probably be more than sufficient assistance with things like permitting, relocation, and other lagniappe. Our suggestion is to fold those duties into the new innovations department headed by Innovation Czar Christopher "CJ" Jordan, eliminate Doan's position, and reallocate that taxpayer cash into some purpose that will benefit taxpayers like fixing potholes on our failing roads. 

Under the supervision of the city manager and Doan's performance, this department is about effective as the asinine advertisement placed in the Houston Business Journal by former Mayor Gary Davis proclaiming Don't Mess With Elk Grove! 

Grade: F 


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D.J. Blutarsky said...

So, let's see if I got this Director, one Manager, and one Specialist. Talk about a top-heavy Titanic!

I knew a man, Bojangles and he danced for you
In worn out shoes
Silver hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants
The old soft shoe
He jumped so high
He jumped so high
Then he'd lightly touch down

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Don't take EGN's word for it. If you can stand to listen and watch the song and dance show Darrell Doan put on at the January 9th Elk Grove Council meeting, please do so. That way you can judge for yourself, and by the Elk Grove City Council's comments afterward, their eyes glazed over, leaning so far back in their chairs ready to nod off, that they are falling for his song and dance routine.

But that is what they do with long presentations, the Council zones out, then when put on the spot at the conclusion, all they can say was "what a phenomenal presentation," praising it so much that, in this case, Doan danced all the way back down the center aisle.

Yep, Darrell, you pulled off another flim-flam presentation. Good job for your $200K plus a year salary.

I wonder if the new city manager Jason Behrmann thought the same? We shall see if Behrmann makes any staff changes in the near future.

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

In the context of this week's hospital flap, it can also be summed up in four words - "Doan's Dreaming Dog Dilemma".

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