Lee Downey, who has been the City’s Economic and Community Development Director since May of 2011, has accepted a new post as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Planning and Economic Development. Downey had been serving in the DCAO post on an interim basis since October of 2014. The permanent placement became effective December 26, 2015.
“Lee is no stranger to the economic development needs of the city,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “He has continued to impress me, now having been a part of my executive team since 2011. One of the highest priorities of this administration has been and continues to be intentional and aggressive economic development efforts. Lee has been a part of our comprehensive effort; including everything from establishing the Arts District, to attracting new businesses like Stone and retaining businesses like McGuire Woods and The Martin Agency. I look forward to our continued work together to position the city to remain competitive and attractive within a growing city and region.”
“Lee has served in the DCAO position on an interim basis, and we are pleased to now make that appointment on a permanent basis,” stated Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “This particular DCAO post is central to helping the city strengthen neighborhoods and commercial corridors so that we can generate new jobs and revenue for the city’s needs. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we are building on a great foundation as the city’s marketability has been strengthened substantially in recent years.”
Jones, now in his second term, placed a strong emphasis on the city’s economic development efforts upon entering office. Citing the need for a comprehensive approach to economic development as a means to effectively address the high poverty rate in the city and create jobs, Jones has also since created the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building to augment the economic and community development work of the city.
“The Mayor’s strong focus on economic and community development strategies has strengthened the city’s overall approach to development strategies,” said Lee Downey. “Our comprehensive approach has led to tangible opportunities to look at corridors and neighborhoods and to balance opportunities in a methodical way. We’ve been able to have transformational impacts on whole neighborhoods; like downtown, the Arts district, what we’ll be doing in Fulton, and even the prospects for Boulevard. This is an exciting time for the city of Richmond and I’m pleased to accept this post.”
The city’s economic and community development focus has contributed to a renewed approach to revitalization. Downtown, for example, has been the recipient of façade improvement grants, restaurants are returning to Grace Street, new apartments and long abandoned buildings like the CFB Building are being redeveloped. The city’s approach is intended to bring jobs and development to formerly neglected corridors, thereby increasing the city’s tax base and strengthening the city’s overall brand.
Downey is a University of Virginia graduate with a master’s degree in Urban Planning. He has over twenty years of experience in economic development at the local, regional and state level, as well as in the private sector. He previously worked at the architecture firm McKinney & Co. and McGuire Woods, and was a business development manager at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.