City of Kent spokeswoman to change jobs

Michelle Wilmot.

City of Kent spokeswoman Michelle Wilmot will switch city jobs to become an economic development project manager.

Mayor Suzette Cooke announced the transfer in an email Monday to the City Council and city staff. Wilmot has served as the city’s community and public affairs manager for 11 years.

”I’m looking forward to putting my expertise to work in a more focused effort,” Wilmot said in an email.

Wilmot will fill one of two open positions in the Economic and Community Development Department.

”The departures of ECD staff Andrew Corona and Bill Ellis created a real loss in our city’s commercial real estate recruitment efforts,” Cooke said in her email to staff. “In addition, the top strategy in our council-approved Economic Development Plan is to advance our brand and ‘tell our story.’

“It quickly became clear to me we have a uniquely qualified person in-house who can advance these two areas. While Michelle has been available to serve ECD, and all city departments for that matter, her broad and technical workload didn’t allow time for the more focused, in-depth efforts we need to be competitive.”

Wilmot’s salary will remain at $112,992 per year, but will be covered under the Economic and Community Development budget rather than the Mayor’s Office.

Cooke, in her 12th and final year as mayor, made the move to help the city attract more businesses.

“We are at a pivotal time to be innovative, to identify and promote our assets as a quality location for business and residents,” Cooke said. “In light of the nearing fiscal cliff (a potential city loss of nearly $10 million in state revenue), we must sharpen our image and change how Kent is perceived in the region in order to attract the highest-caliber businesses and investments to our community.

“We must do a better job of telling our story – and we have great stories to share. I’m confident we will achieve these objectives by integrating our day-to-day economic development activities with a focused marketing effort.”

Replacement for Wilmot

Cooke also announced the city has hired Dana Neuts on a contract basis through the rest of the year to fill Wilmot’s current position.

Neuts is the publisher of the website ILoveKent.net and owns Virtually Yourz, a Kent-based writing, editing and marketing firm. She will start Oct. 9.

“While Michelle’s shoes will be difficult to fill, Dana Neuts can help us with our day-to-day communications needs until the new administration takes office,” Cooke said.

Council members Jim Berrios and Dana Ralph are running to replace Cooke on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. Kent’s mayor is a full-time position and pays $144,996 per year.

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