The role of Washington Community and Economic Development Director was filled internally this week when Sal Maniaci, city planner, was tapped for the position.
Maniaci, 25, is a Washington native who has been the city planner since January 2016. He takes the place of Darren Lamb, who was appointed as the city administrator of Washington in May.
“I am very excited for this opportunity,” Maniaci told The Missourian. “I have big shoes to fill but I am fortunate to have worked with Darren, and shadowed him while learning how economic development works in Washington.”
Maniaci will begin his new role Oct. 1. Prior to becoming city planner, he was a planner for Jefferson County from May 2014 to January 2016.
“It is really exciting to have Sal in this position,” Mayor Sandy Lucy said. “From his first day at city hall we knew Sal had great potential.
“We’re certain he will continue on that path,” she added. “He is a hard worker and very enthusiastic about the community. He is always ready to take on a new task.”
Maniaci said working in the field of economic development has been a goal since he was an intern with the city in the summer of 2013.
“I have always been interested and I have been striving toward that,” he commented.
While attracting new businesses is a major facet of the position, Maniaci said, growth of current industries also is important.
His first steps as economic development director is to meet with industry leaders and plant managers.
“I want them to know they have an ally at city hall,” Maniaci said, adding he will be available to help with any expansion inquiries. “There will be a focus on business retention and planning.”
There were 19 applicants for the position and nine were interviewed, according to Lamb. Three candidates were called back for a second interview with the hiring committee.
The committee was comprised of Lamb, the Washington 353 executive committee of Bill Miller Sr., Pete Tobben, Bob Dobsch and Tim Unnerstall, Mayor Lucy, Washington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Giesike and Councilman Steve Sullentrup.
“We felt Sal was the best fit for this position,” Lamb commented. “There is an element of planning in economic development, so his background will help.”
He added the city’s first economic development director, Dick Oldenburg, and Lamb himself, both had roots in the planning field.
“Economic development is a strain of the planning profession,” Lamb stated. “Sal had that background and we feel he has room to grow into that position.”
Through his position as city planner, Maniaci already knows many of the local industry leaders.
“I wanted to expose him to all facets of that, and took him to industry visits — he was always there representing the city,” Lamb noted.
“We have done everything we can to help local industries grow and Sal has had a lot of contact with these individuals.”
Lamb said Maniaci will continue his duties as city planner. The salary for the position is $56,596.80.
“He will continue in his capacity as city planner and continue to perform those as well,” Lamb said.
Maniaci added he will be more involved with the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Washington, Inc., but also will attend the city’s planning and zoning commission, board of zoning adjustment and historic preservation meetings.
Maniaci graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in community and regional planning.