Friday, October 15, 2004

New staff help with Fairfield's growth

October 15, 2004
By Matthew Bunk

FAIRFIELD -- Three months into his first stint as an economic development specialist, David White, a 30-year-old former real estate consultant, is most impressed with how busy he's been.

Mark Kaiser's situation is much different. After 15 years in the economic development field, Kaiser, 51, knows a thing or two about working in government. He's even got some background in Fairfield, an asset he's drawn upon since taking a position with the city on July 26, the same day White joined up.

Both Kaiser and White help businesses thrive and new ones start up. It's one of the main functions of their jobs as Fairfield economic development project managers.

The two new bodies will free up other economic developers to spend more time on the details of other projects, said Sean Quinn, director of Fairfield Planning and Development. While his staff has grown, Quinn pointed out his department had to cut staff positions a few years ago and hadn't made it up until now.

"I just don't want people to think we're adding a bunch of staff," Quinn said.

White can't believe how busy everyone is around him, he said.

"I'm just continually impressed with everything that's going on in Fairfield right now," White said. "It took me by storm. I was expecting more of a honeymoon period."

Instead, White was given reins to one of the most controversial projects the city has undertaken - turning Allan Witt Park into a living community of homes, apartments and offices.

He's also in charge of the City Center Redevelopment Project Area, which includes the downtown shopping district and surrounding residential zones.

Kaiser, a native of Austin, Texas, specializes in affordable housing projects and working with small businesses to secure expansion or start-up loans. He had worked in the city's Quality Neighborhoods Program before taking a job in West Sacramento three years ago.

"I'm here to serve the harder-to-serve portions of our housing market, like first-time home buyers," Kaiser said. "I'm constantly surprised by how expensive it is to create affordable housing."

Kaiser, who lives in Davis, said Fairfield has become a nicer place since he last worked for the city three years ago.

"I've noticed that the good things that were here are still here," he said.

White, who grew up in Southern California and later moved to El Cerrito, said he's always wanted to be a part of the economic development machine.

"This is my first foray into the public sector," White said. "I felt the city was very aggressive and entrepreneurial. It seems like the right blend."

While both men come from very different places, they do share a few similarities. The most distinguishable shared quality is their passion for progress.

White might have said it best: "I'm just excited to get some good redevelopment projects done."

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

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