MANCHESTER — Town officials plan to have the code enforcement officer work up to 12 additional hours a week in a new role as economic development director, in hopes he can help bring grant funds and new businesses to town.

Keegen Ballard, 25, an Augusta resident who grew up in Manchester, said he can “absolutely” handle the job and said he looks forward to working to bring investment to Manchester.

“I think I bring a lot of energy to the table, and I’m just interested to see what kind of opportunities are out there, and who is interested in bringing business to Manchester,” said Ballard, who has been the town’s code enforcement officer, and thus responsible for overseeing building codes and compliance with local ordinances, for just over two years.

Ballard did an internship with the town of Kingfield, prior to taking the code enforcement job in Manchester, in which he worked on some grant writing projects including Community Development Block Grants and downtown revitalization. But beyond that, he does not have extensive experience in economic development.

Paula Thomas, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said selectmen proposed the idea in hopes of bringing more businesses to Manchester to broaden the tax base and provide job opportunities. She expects Ballard to spend his time in that role reaching out to businesses and networking.

Thomas said the work was offered to Ballard, versus advertising for a new part-time economic development worker, in part because town officials feel it is important to help keep and support good employees, and by offering him the additional position it would make Ballard a full-time employee.

He currently works 24 hours a week. The new role would bring him up to 36 hours a week.

Town Manager E. Patrick Gilbert said funds to pay Ballard for his planned economic development work would come from a tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement, between the town and a local medical offices development at Manchester Place, which he said generates about $16,000 a year for the town.

Selectmen voted 4-0 last month to approve up to 12 hours of economic development work a week.

Thomas said the cost to the town is expected to be about $200 a week.

Gilbert said the town is still working on the details of the plan and Ballard could start working in economic development in a couple of weeks. He said the job will involve seeking grant funds, networking, and attracting and assisting businesses.

Gilbert said town officials already, informally, often assist businesses.

He said adding that responsibility to Ballard’s duties could allow the town to do some economic development without hiring a new employee.

“We have the talent in-house, in someone who is interested in doing it,” Gilbert said of Ballard. “At the town office we all, to a certain level, do it anyway. We’re always helping people as they come in. This would be more of a tip on the spear, to look at more grant opportunities. That’s kind of what I was doing when I first came here.”

Gilbert was the town’s code enforcement officer before he became town manager.

Ballard said code enforcement and economic development are different jobs, but said he believes there can be synergy with him doing both.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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