Wauwatosa Mayor Jill Didier is leaving her position Dec. 15 to become the economic development coordinator for Milwaukee County.
It's a job Didier calls a natural progression from her initiatives during her 3½ years as the city's chief executive.
"In the past two years, we've done $50 million in economic development," she said.
She gives examples of The Enclave and the Mt. Tosa residential developments, the Pick 'n Save on Mayfair Road and the Alterra Café - which is on the Common Council's agenda for approval Tuesday - as some of the larger projects she had a hand in making happen in Wauwatosa.
There also has been an influx of business to the Village, and the Hart Park stadium has brought rental business and spectators to spend their money in the city, she said.
Under her administration, Community Development Block Grant funds were spent to create master plans for the East Tosa and Village areas to guide future development.
"I helped instigate the plans, and I allocated money in capital resources for the next five years to start implementation," she said.
Shortly after she took office, she pushed for changes to the city's development structure and processes. That has led to the city's economic development director position and the Community Development Authority, among other proposed changes.
"I'm very proud of my economic development work in Wauwatosa. Despite the down economy, we've still persevered. Due to efforts positioning our community to be able to pursue these businesses rather than wait for them to come to us," she said.
As economic development coordinator, she will try to extend those efforts to the entire county.
"I have left Wauwatosa in a solid state to move forward," Didier said. "I can work on behalf of the county and other municipalities, as well as Wauwatosa."
With Didier being a Republican, many may be surprised to learn she will work for County Executive Chris Abele, a Democrat.
"It takes everybody to get the job done," she said. "Regardless of our politics, there exists opportunities for us to work together to reach common goals.
Didier was elected Tosa's mayor in April, 2008, following two years as alderwoman. Taking this job means not finishing out her first term.
With the mayor's departure, Common Council President Eric Meaux will be the city's leader because a mayoral election is already scheduled for spring.
Didier said she puts in many hours each week serving as Wauwatosa's mayor.
"This is a job where you put your heart and soul into it," she said.
Didier wouldn't directly comment on whether the $22,500 mayoral salary had a hand in her decision to leave. Instead, she said it's a wise move for the council to evaluate the salary - the council will consider making the salary $30,000 beginning in April when it meets Tuesday - compared to those offered by other communities.
Didier will earn $62,500 per year in her new job.
As mayor, she served on the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District board and represented Tosa on the Visit Milwaukee executive committee, Milwaukee County Research Park board and Wisconsin Center District board.
In addition to government leadership, Didier has management experience in the private sector that helped her hone skills she used with the city and will need in her new job, she said. She was the head of marketing communications for Stewart Associates, a company that was purchased by CUNA in Madison.
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