GH Quickly Finds A New Director

February 20, 2004
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GRAND HAVEN — A combination of professional experience and community knowledge landed Brigit Hassig the job as the new downtown development director in Grand Haven.

Hassig starts March 8 as executive director of the merchant association Downtown Grand Haven Inc. and coordinator for the city’s Central Business District Development Authority.

Hassig, who’s been working for the last year as prevention coordinator with the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and has a background in nonprofit marketing and planning, was drawn to the position by a major push to upgrade the downtown business district.

Downtown Grand Haven Inc. and the city recently completed a trio of studies that offered perspectives on the direction that downtown needs to take in the future. The analyses provide the framework for a long-term strategic plan for the central business district to remain competitive against growing retail competition locally and in other nearby markets, as well as to continue a transformation from a primarily retail shopping hub to a broader commercial district with a mixture of residential dwellings above storefronts, restaurants, professional offices and specialty retail outlets.

“It’s a tremendous time to be able to join that and the consensus that has been reached, and getting beyond that and to be able to build that vision,” Hassig said.

At the Department of Public Safety, Hassig worked with downtown merchants and neighborhood associations on crime prevention and managing special events. Her background also includes time as director of communications and development for the Area Agency on Aging in Southfield, development manager and marketing director with American Red Cross chapters in Detroit and Atlanta, Ga., and as community planner with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, a regional planning agency in Metro Detroit.

The position as downtown development director enables Hassig to put to use her background and abilities in strategic planning, organizing and marketing.

“This allows me to contribute to the city even more in a lot of different ways,” she said. “It has the best of both worlds for me in terms of the skills I like to use.”

Hassig succeeds Cherie Hall Talbert, who is leaving as head of Downtown Grand Haven Inc. at the end of the month for a position with Commerce Realty and Management. The Grand Rapids commercial real estate firm is opening a Grand Haven office.

Her professional background made Hassig a “nice fit” for downtown Grand Haven, said Karen Benson, chair of the Downtown Grand Haven Inc. board. Hassig also knows the community and the business district’s needs and has worked with downtown business owners, Benson said.

“She was a natural choice. There’s no learning curve,” she said.    

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