Today, Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced her selection of Lara L. Fritts, CEcD to lead the city’s economic development efforts as director of the proposed Department of Economic Development, pending advise and consent from the Salt Lake City Council. Lara Fritts was previously the President/CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Annapolis, MD and is currently a business development consultant in Virginia.
Lara Fritts’s qualifications in building and strengthening economic and development organizations within municipalities set her apart from the more than 150 individuals who applied for the position. Since 1998, Lara has held numerous economic development positions, including serving as Executive Director of the Southeast Fairfax (VA) Development Corporation, Director of Economic Development for the city of Cudahy, WI, and the CEO of the Washington DC Technology Council.
“Lara’s wealth of economic and development knowledge, coupled with her experience working within diverse and complex organizations makes her the absolute best choice to revitalize the Capital City’s economic development efforts,” said Mayor Biskupski on the selection. “Lara has played a direct role in bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity and thousands of jobs to the cities she has represented throughout her career.”
During Lara Fritts’s time with the Annapolis Economic Development Corporation, she led the effort to recruit, retain, and expand more than 154 companies, significantly reducing the city’s office and retail vacancy rates, and increasing the commercial tax base of the city by 2 percent.
“When Lara came to Annapolis from the Milwaukee area, she had a challenge to meet not only our economic development goals, but to navigate a new city and culture,” said Joshua Cohen, former mayor of Annapolis, MD. “ She quickly was able to reach out to key business and community leaders, build coalitions, and move economic development forward very effectively. Lara understands business, transportation, planning and zoning, redevelopment, licensing, and so many moving parts of economic development. She knows how they all fit together,” he said.
“I am excited at the prospect of coming to Salt Lake City and working to help strengthen the economic picture of this incredibly unique and vibrant place. I love cities, they play such a critical role in our culture and economy, and Salt Lake City is a global brand with unique opportunities,” said Lara Fritts on her selection. “I have already had the pleasure of meeting some of the individuals I will be working with, and they are all incredibly energetic and clearly have the best interest of Salt Lake City at heart.”
Peter Makowski, the Economic Development Manager in the Salt Lake City’s Economic Development Division met with Lara Fritts earlier this month and said, “We had a great conversation with a good deal of information sharing. Lara really seems to understand our needs and I think she’ll be a great addition to our team and the expanded efforts moving forward.”
On February 11, Mayor Biskupski launched a nationwide search to find an individual to lead Salt Lake City’s economic development efforts. At the launch, Mayor Biskupski was joined by leaders from; GOED, EDCUtah, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Visit Salt Lake, Local First Utah, the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, various multi-cultural chambers of commerce, and representatives of large and small businesses in Salt Lake City. These leaders noted the important role Salt Lake City plays as the capital city in the larger economic picture of the state. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDO-UDCxStM)
Mayor Biskupki’s proposal to elevate economic development to full department status is currently in front of the City Council as part of the Mayor’s Recommended Budget, presented on May 3rd.
Lara L. Fritts is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin; she holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a certified Economic Development Professional. She currently lives in Silver Spring, MD with her husband Mike and dog Harold.
Lara’s appointment is subject to the City Council’s advice and consent authority.
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