Jessica Hann resigns from city Economic Development Authority

Staff writer

Former Economic Development Authority member Jessica Hann was commended for her service to the board at its meeting Wednesday.

According to a resolution thanking Hann for her time on the board, she resigned from her post Feb. 7 because of growing work obligations. She was appointed by City Council to serve on the Economic Development Authority board of directors in March 2017.

During her tenure on the EDA, Hann worked on the formation of the board’s downtown vibrancy implementation recommendations to City Council late last year.

“I think that she brought the value of her experience, which was not only national marketing experience, which helps us understand how to present ourselves in a much larger community, but also she had been working with Colonial Williamsburg,” EDA chairman Adam Steely said. “Any time that we can break down the silos that exist in our community, those conversations prove to be extremely fruitful.”

In an email to EDA heads Adam Steely, Rick Overy and city economic development director Michele Mixner DeWitt, Hann cited her mounting responsibilities as senior director of brand communications at Avocado Green Mattress, a New Jersey-based mattress company, which led her to feel she wasn’t able to fully participate in EDA efforts.

The city has begun accepting applications to fill the empty seat on the EDA, and City Council is expected to appoint a new board member in the coming months.

Also at the meeting, DeWitt briefed the board on developing plans to merge the Greater Williamsburg Partnership with the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance’s Business Council.

At a special meeting Tuesday night, DeWitt said the GWP’s 19-member board voted to endorse the idea of merging the two groups, with the existing GWP board serving as an advisory committee within the new Business Council.

The Greater Williamsburg Partnership was formed to market the Historic Triangle to existing businesses looking to relocate in an effort to grow the local tax base.

DeWitt said the move is still pending approval from the Chamber and Tourism Alliance. Business Council interim executive director Terry Banez would hire a new GWP director as part of the move, as existing GWP head David Denny was hired in a contract position set to expire at the end of March, she said.

“This is a great coming-together of these resources,” Steely said. “We get an organization that’s got support staff, a budget to travel and do things, and we flesh out a piece that (the Business Council) was missing.”

Finally, the EDA board noted that it is now accepting applications for its 2019 Business Appreciation Award.

To celebrate Business Appreciation Month in May, the EDA selects a Williamsburg-based small business each year to receive an award thanking them for the diversity and growth that they’ve brought to the local economy at City Council’s regular June meeting.

Jennifer Raines, owner of local art shops Quirks Handcrafted Goods & Unique Gifts and The Sideshow, won the award last year. Past winners also include Binns of Williamsburg, Taproot Hearth & Patio, Chesapeake Bank and Ace Hardware.

To be considered, nominees must have been based in Williamsburg for at least five years, employ less than 100 workers and be able to demonstrate a substantial impact on the local job market, continued business growth and strong customer service and community engagement practices.

The deadline to submit award nominations is April 26.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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