BARRE – The executive director of the Barre Area Development Corp. is retiring, handing over the recent “Rock Solid” branding effort to a successor.
Joel Schwartz was hired as the head of the BADC in 2013. He’s told the organization’s board he’ll stick around until the end of the year to help train and work with his replacement, but if that process happens quickly, he’ll move on sooner.
Schwartz said Tuesday he decided to retire now in part because the organization is in the process of a branding effort called “Rock Solid.” The initiative is aimed at attracting new families, businesses and visitors to the city and town.
Schwartz said he’s more of a project person, where his career has been focused on starting and finishing projects he’s managing, instead of marketing. So he felt the organization would be better served by someone with a stronger focus on and better skills for marketing.
“I just know I’m not the right person for some of the future activities,” he said.
While he is retiring, Schwartz said he plans on continuing to work on projects part time. He said he’s been approached to work on projects, but has turned them down because he’s been working full-time for BADC.
When he started on the job Schwartz said there was plenty of buzz around Barre with the construction of City Place and the makeover of North Main Street. He said that buzz has died down a bit, but hopefully the marketing campaign can reignite it.
While some endeavors didn’t pan out, Schwartz said he was proud of some that did. He pointed to the makeover of Enterprise Alley, bringing electric vehicle charging stations to the city and bringing businesses to the Wilson Industrial Park as some of the highlights during his tenure.
Schwartz said his biggest regrets were not finding someone to fill the empty space next to the old Homer Fitts building, which he called a “festering sore,” and not pushing harder to expand facilities at the Millstone Trails to attract more people there.
Town and city officials have butted heads in the past when it comes to cooperating with each other. But Schwartz said that’s been changing. He doesn’t take credit for it, but he said the two municipalities are better about working with each other. He said his approach has always been there is one Barre, which includes the town and city.
Looking forward, Schwartz said Barre is a working-class area and that’s not going to change. He just hopes more people and businesses can be brought in to the benefit of everyone.
Sarah Field, president of the BADC board, said Schwartz brought with him an institutional knowledge and an understanding of the process for the job.
“And a level of sophistication that we hadn’t had in the past,” Field said.
She said he was instrumental in creating a level of expertise for the organization and he will be sorely missed. She said Schwartz has positioned the organization well so that it can continue to grow.
Field said the BADC has started a search for Schwartz’s replacement and has started collecting resumes. She said interviews should start by the end of the month.