After about a month on the job, Delaware County’s new economic development director, Robert Lamb, is enamored by the opportunities presented in his new role.
Lamb, who was hired after a months-long nationwide search, said Delaware County has “a ton of potential here for new development projects.”
“It’s an amazing county,” he said.
Lamb previously served as community and economic development manager in Upper Arlington. Before that, he was the economic development administrator for the city of Glendale, Arizona, and a special projects planner in the city for a short time.
But he saw the opportunity in Delaware County as one too good to pass up.
“I really saw this as a chance to grow professionally and help Delaware County achieve some development goals it has had,” he said.
For him, his top two goals are developing a long-term economic development plan and a business retention plan.
He said he also wants to diversify the county’s tax base through economic development.
One area that presented that opportunity, he said, is along the Sawmill Parkway extension in progress. The roadway will provide another north-south thoroughfare in the county, and open up about 1,600 acres for development at the city of Delaware’s expanded industrial park.
“I really think that area will focus well on light industrial projects,” he said, adding he believes that will be the county’s area of major growth over the next decade.
Lamb also sees major opportunity in the area of the Interstate 71 interchange at U.S. 36-State Route 37 for mixed-use development that includes retail, residential and office space.
“I really think it will be a mixture of development that will occur,” he said.
Those two areas of growth, combined with others, could lead to another development boom across the county.
“We have a lot of great opportunity and a lot of land to development,” he said. “We’re going to see a lot of new investment coming to Delaware County over the next decade.”
Lamb has a law degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and master’s degree for urban planning and development from Cleveland State University.
He bested fellow candidate Raymond A. Hagerman for the position. Hagerman, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Tennessee, is the CEO at Four Corners Economic Development in Farmington, New Mexico. He previously served as vice president of investments and entrepreneurial signature program director at the Dayton Development Coalition; president of Nextedge Development Corp. in Springfield, Ohio; and director of finance at the Turner Foundation in Springfield.
During his tenure in Upper Arlington, Lamb helped finalize the mixed-use project on Lane Avenue with a 109-room hotel, 108 residential units, a 300-space parking garage and 26,000 square feet of commercial space; created and implemented a new redevelopment incentive policy that has resulted in four commercial building rehabilitation projects in two years; and successfully retained a major employer’s headquarters within the city.
The county fired its previous economic development director, Gus Comstock, last September.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.