Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Getting to know Milton's economic development manager.

Courtesy Carolyn Aspenson; The Milton Herald

MILTON, Ga. —When Bill O'Connor started as the city's economic development manager in January, he wasn't new to government employment.

O'Connor spent 38 years in similar positions in New York, Massachusetts and Virginia before moving to Milton.

"We moved here to be closer to our son and his six boys," O'Connor said. "I had retired but I still wanted to do something part-time, and when this opportunity presented itself, I was thrilled."

As the economic development manager, O'Connor is responsible for linking the Milton business community with the city government as well as exposing the city to more business opportunities.

"My main goal for the past several months has been to gain exposure for the city with businesses seeking locations," he said.

O'Connor said he's worked to maintain the city's quality of life standards and find a balance with economic sustainability.

"The city wants to attract new businesses but also maintain a standard of quality equal to the lifestyle of Milton," he said.

Over the past 12 months, the city has approved 146 new business licenses, a 16 percent increase over the previous 12 months, he said.

He doesn't attribute this success to himself.

"The employees and officials of Milton are truly a team," he said. "I am a small part of a big group dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in Milton."

City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said O'Connor's position requires someone with good relationship-building skills, and O'Connor has that.

"He's a natural at connecting with people and understanding the big picture and he's a great fit," Lagerbloom said.

O'Connor was instrumental in attracting and securing mobile network and cloud services company Citrix to Milton.

The company, located on Morris Road, Milton, opened its doors in August.

"They currently employ about 125 people and plan to expand to over 250 over the next few years," O'Connor said.

But don't think it's all about attracting big businesses to Milton.

"We want to encourage smaller businesses to open in the city, too," he said. "And we have worked with small businesses to make locating their businesses in Milton easy."

"Rooftops bring business," O'Connor said, "and the city has seen a significant increase in home building over the past year, so we're seeing an increase in businesses coming to Milton now, too."

O'Connor said the city is in excellent condition financially, an important factor for potential businesses.

"Not only is Milton a great place to live, but it's also a great place to work, and I'm excited to see businesses realize the benefits of locating to our city," he said.

Councilman Matt Kunz feels O'Connor is a great addition to the team.

"He's focused on keeping Milton the type of community the residents want but doing so in a way that positively impacts our economic development," he said. "He's definitely moving us in the right direction."

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