I like to help them expand on their new ideas, to take the tools they have in place and expand on them. Leslie Gambosi
It is a good thing Leslie Gambosi can multitask.
As the new Middlefield Village economic development director, zoning inspector and housing officer, her organizational skills are going to be taxed for the next few months.
While the last two keep the expansion and maintenance of the village under control, economic development is the main focus of her new job.
“I have some parameters: bring in retail businesses, fill vacant spaces, support new construction and develop industrial areas,” Gambosi said in a recent interview.
For a village the size of Middlefield, the target might seem challenging.
Thanks to previous experience as director of economic development for Maple Heights since shortly after earning her MBA in 2007, Gambosi comprehends the first step to success for the village.
She is working to join the business support network already in place. Geauga County Community and Economic Development, Geauga Growth Partnership and the Business Resource Network are all becoming part of her world, Gambosi said.
Getting to know local retail and manufacturing operations is another vital part of business retention in the village. As often as possible, Gambosi said she gets out in the field, talking to company owners and discovering what kind of supportive services the village can help them find.
“I’m trying to make partnerships to give us a stronger ability to ask companies ‘What do you need help with?'” she said. “Nine times out of 10, their need is not financial.”
More often, Gambosi finds they need access to resources to solve problems or to know they are not alone in their efforts, and that is something she can offer.
“I’m telling them Middlefield wants to be involved. A lot of them are newer businesses,” she said, adding the start-up owner may not have the contacts to help find solutions.
“I like to help them expand on their new ideas, to take the tools they have in place and expand on them,” she said.
Setting the village slogan Middl-efield Means Business as her lodestone, she is gathering momentum to succeed in her mission, marketing the many positive qualities of the community.
“Conceptually, we’re more business specific. Business is the driver,” Gambosi said.
Of all her skills, she rates listening at the top of the list, and it should be especially useful when retention is the issue.
Supply chain needs, transportation and location are all related, but what business management calls for often is skilled workers, she said.
Even if they have employees they like, when they need specific skills, they may have to go outside the immediate area and convince recruits to move, Gambosi said.
“Who they are looking for isn’t here,” she said.
However, if they have workers with potential, she is happy to help them set up a training program or seek out training opportunities.
She has been adding tools to her economic development abilities since she discovered her interest and talent in the field during breaks from Bowling Green State University.
“I tripped backwards and fell into my job,” she said.
Starting off as a clerical person filling in a college job, she went on to become a director’s assistant, then worked part time while she got her MBA.
Her accounting knowledge landed her a job with a large insurance company, but she jumped at the chance to get back into public service at Maple Heights.
“I like working in government,” she said, adding her new positions with Middlefield Village will give her a chance to put all her skills and knowledge to work.
The myriad hats she will be wearing don’t seem to daunt her.
“I just figure it out, grab a notebook and hit the ground running,” Gambosi said.
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