Amsterdam IDA appoints Bearcroft Executive Director

AMSTERDAM – The Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency has made Amanda Bearcroft’s interim appointment as Executive Director more permanent under a new two-year contract.

The two-year contract approved by AIDA’s board of directors on Thursday is effective Jan. 1 and includes an annual salary of $ 30,000. The contract follows Bearcroft’s appointment as interim executive director of AIDA in May on a monthly basis with a monthly salary of $ 2,000.

The not-for-profit utility company has been without regular leadership since the absence of former chief executive John Duchissi in December 2020 due to medical leave. AIDA enlisted Bearcroft to fill the role at least temporarily while continuing to serve as the director of the city’s community and economic development department.

At the time, Bearcroft and AIDA board officials expressed interest in making the dual leadership roles between the city and the agency permanent, in part due to the overlap between tasks and level of expertise she brought to this position.

After months of replacing the head of the agency, Bearcroft was happy Monday to officially assume the title for at least the next two years.

“It’s great to have the partnership between the city and IDA. I think we have the ability to do a lot of big projects and make changes in the city that way. I can’t wait to see where the next two years go, ”said Bearcroft. “There are a lot of initiatives and projects that we have already launched and we are really getting started. “

Leading the city’s economic development office and AIDA, according to Bearcroft, is a benefit both for more closely aligning each other’s visions and goals, while also expanding access to opportunities channeled through a common department head. . Both roles also streamline access to information and support for business owners and developers through the city and AIDA with a single point of contact.

Yet a month ago, AIDA was on the verge of taking a different direction when it was about to consider a resolution to renew Duchessi for a year on a salary of $ 42,000 when he took over. asked to be reinstated after a long recovery from a heart attack he suffered. at the end of 2020. The former city mayor and current District 6 lawmaker had been AIDA Executive Director since 2018. His contract with AIDA expired during his leave of absence.

Duchessi finally withdrew his name from consideration just before the AIDA board meeting after suffering a health setback due to gallbladder issues. He said at the time that he wanted to better understand his recovery schedule and that he would potentially recontact the board in the future to request a reappointment.

The council’s plan to consider re-appointing Duchessi was rebuffed by several city officials who argued that Bearcroft was the best candidate for the job based on what she accomplished with the agency in just seven months. of work and organizational benefits of overlapping roles. The board of directors of the independent agency is made up of members appointed by the Common Council.

After urging the board to keep Bearcroft at the helm of AIDA in a letter last month, 4th Ward Alderman Stephen Gomula was happy that the agency drafted the new contract with Bearcroft which he said will promote current economic development initiatives. He highlighted the projects in which she is involved focused on job creation and improving access to goods, services and leisure opportunities.

“I think this will greatly contribute to the continuity of the projects that have been started before and the projects that she herself has started and I think that in the end the inhabitants of the city will benefit from it,” said said Gomula. “[Projects] give our citizens reasons to stay in the city.

The agency moved into a new direction under Bearcroft as it began selling properties it had previously rehabilitated to put the now productive plots back on the city’s tax rolls while seeking opportunities to reinvest the proceeds in new sites for rehabilitation or remediation to shovel ready sites. for redevelopment.

She has also led ongoing discussions by AIDA with a developer interested in purchasing the Chalmers property on the south side for the proposed construction of a brewery.

The AIDA-owned property will also be the site of a boardwalk along the Mohawk River connected to the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge as one of the projects funded by a grant from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. $ 10 million. Bearcroft is overseeing the development of plans for this joint project between the city and AIDA.

Although he has declared his intention to support Duchessi’s reappointment to his previous post, AIDA board chairman Joseph Emanuele praised Bearcroft’s contributions to the agency and expressed interest in her being appointed director. executive permanently after Duchessi’s withdrawal. Calls to Emanuele for comment on Tuesday were not immediately returned.

With the leadership of AIDA now decided, Bearcroft looks forward to continuing this work and suggested that the agency may consider formalizing an agreement with the city in the future to permanently share a single leader between the Development Department. community and economic and AIDA.

“I think for the crossover that’s the direction they would like to take, but they’re their own private board and they can decide,” Bearcroft said. “I think the continuity would be in everyone’s interest.”

For her part, Gomula would also like to see the city and AIDA discuss this possibility in the future if the agency so wishes.

“I think the two go hand in hand,” Gomula said.

Contact Ashley Onyon at or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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