Ogden selects new director to spur economic growth
Despite the uncertain economy, Tom Christopulos is optimistic as he steps into his new role as Ogden's Community and Economic Development Director.
"The national economy makes me a little queasy because I don't know what's going to happen," Christopulos said. "But we look for opportunities no matter what â¦it hasn't been great the last five years, but we've got significant projects up and under way."
The Ogden native hired on with the city in 2007 as business development manager, then two years ago became deputy CED director under Richard McConkie. McConkie recently retired after working for Ogden City since July 1983.
"We felt fortunate to have Tom in the wings," said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell, who took office in January.
The city received a flurry of applications for the CED job, Caldwell said, and a panel of business and community leaders narrowed the field to six candidates who were given interviews. Christopulos was chosen from two top finalists.
Christopulos, 58, said he looks forward to carrying on the economic development already in progress in Ogden, adding that he plans to continue focusing on job creation and retention, along with updating the city's central neighborhoods with a mix of new housing.
Ogden, a city of 83,000 residents, distinguished itself by adding jobs in three of four quarters in 2011, placing it in the top 20 of 100 large metropolitan areas in the Mountain West in terms of overall economic recovery, according to data compiled by Brookings Mountain West.
Christopulos is proud of Ogden's efforts to chip away at unemployment.
"We do 600 business consultations per year and they emerge and move along," Christopulos said, noting that the city has also enticed such businesses as Home Depot (call center), Wayfair and Hersheys to relocate within its borders.
Over the next 18 months, Christopulos said the landscape will change significantly in the downtown blocks bordering the picturesque Ogden River, with the addition of a Kneaders Bakery and Cafe, a high-end sporting goods store, and several new condominiums.
"I enjoy my job," Christopulos said. "It's never been easy but consistency is really important and we work at it day in and day out."
Caldwell said Christopulos will earn an annual salary of just over $100,000.
Ogden added 1,270 full-time jobs in the last 12 months, according to its business department:
600 • HomeDepot.com call center
279 • Construction
125 • The Commons/Winco Grocery
102 • Restaurants
50 • Homeland Vinyl (warehousing/manufacturing)
40 • Hilton Garden Inn
40 • Infinia (manufacturing/clean energy)
15 • Kangaroo Zoo
10 • Paul Mitchell beauty school
5 • Geigerrig
4 • New Ogden Rox/Bear Bottom outlet store