SAN JUAN — Two new chiefs have been picked over the last week to lead the economic development corporations of San Juan and Alamo — positions that have been open most of 2012.
San Juan Economic Development Corp. board members voted unanimously Monday night to hire Ismael Delgado as the organization’s new head. Delgado, director of special projects in business and community development for the University of Texas-Pan American, accepted the position happily and said he could start as soon as next week.
The new director will take on the task of rebuilding the corporation after the controversy of the board firing then-Director Miki McCarthy in January, after an altercation between her and Board President Bobby Rodriguez. Two other employees departed the organization in June, and the board fired the fourth last month.
“After all the things that have happened, we need to give closure to the previous chapter and start a new chapter,” Delgado said. “The first order of business is to meet all the stakeholders, introduce myself.”
Delgado said he was looking forward to “picking up the baton” with regard to infrastructure projects and focusing on continuing to develop around the city’s cluster of high-end car dealerships and supporting shops and restaurants along Nebraska Avenue.
He will earn $65,000 and have a six-month probation period to start the job.
Rodriguez said Delgado’s educational experience in economic development, including a bachelor’s degree in business administration and nearly completed master’s in economic development, set him apart from other eight candidates.
“I’m pleased with the outcome,” Rodriguez said. “I think the process was very transparent.”
Delgado also was a finalist candidate in Alamo, but withdrew his application last week, leading board members there to believe he had already been hired in San Juan. Delgado said he considered it a professional courtesy to remove himself from that list, even though the board in San Juan had not yet voted on his employment.
Rodriguez acknowledged that he had let Delgado know that he was the leading contender for the position.
Alamo Economic Development Corp. board members, meanwhile, selected Alma Colleli as director, whom they will recommend to city commissioners as that corporation’s new director Tuesday night.
The commission there must approve the pick in order to ratify an interlocal agreement with the corporation. City commission approval is not necessary in San Juan.
The Alamo development corporation has also been without a director since January, when Robert Diaz De Leon left the post. City grant writer Melisa Gonzales has served as interim head since then.
City Manager Luciano Ozuna had advocated for taking over the position himself to save the organization money — a model akin to Pharr, where City Manager Fred Sandoval single-handedly runs the development corporation. But board members refused the offer and advertised for the position, drawing 13 applicants.
Colleli said she still needed to go over the details of the pending contract, and is also a finalist candidate for a job with the Rio South Texas Economic Council, but called herself excited about the opportunity. Colleli formerly served as the director of San Benito’s development corporation for nearly six years and said she left to try the work on the Hidalgo County side of the Valley.
“I see it as a challenge because I think Alamo is kind of in the same — as far as economic development — it’s kind of on the same level as San Benito and I was able to do a lot in San Benito,” she said.
Elizabeth Findell covers Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, the Mid-Valley and general assignments for The Monitor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (956) 683-4428.
Follow Elizabeth Findell on Twitter: @efindell