Proposed CDC to be in place by Oct 8
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Following Executive Director Benjamin Nicholls’ announcement that he will be leaving the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA), the non-profit, business-services organization announced an open call for applicants to fill the position.
Nicholls, who has been with the HBA for five years, will be taking a position at McFarlane Promotions, Inc. in Downtown. His last day with the HBA is planned for Oct. 8, the day of the HBA annual meeting where new members are voted in to serve on the board. The organization plans to officially announce its new executive director on that date.
“The strength of the HBA comes from the board, and so my goal is to get a good board and a great executive team,” Nicholls said of his last month. “I don’t want to leave the group without a leader.”
Nicholls made the announcement at the Aug. 13 HBA board meeting, immediately following the previous weekend’s CityFest. Nicholls said this year’s annual event was the most successful he has seen in his tenure, and event planning will be a focal point of his new job.
“I’ve been working for 16 years running business improvement districts and I think that one of the most fun parts of this job is doing the events. So this is a natural fit for me,” he said.
Before the HBA, Nicholls managed the Pacific Beach Business Association and served as the Program Manager for the Pioneer Square Community Association, a neighborhood business group in Seattle.
When Nicholls started at the HBA, the organization oversaw three main events: CityFest, Mardi Gras and Taste of Hillcrest. In his five years, that number has grown to seven, with more soon to be added. This year’s Hillcrest Hoedown is scheduled for Oct. 12 – Nicholls said he would be working that event, too – and the group plans on starting a movie night in the near future. They are also looking at options for a Mardi Gras celebration in 2014 after declining to be a part of this year’s event.
Nicholls said the HBA was in a “great spot” to move forward with staff changes and new initiatives, including the proposed Hillcrest Community Development Corporation (CDC).
In July, Nicholls announced the board’s desire to form a CDC – a separate organization from the HBA – in order to both secure Main Street certification for the HBA and to address long-term sustainability for the neighborhood. While the proposed CDC would eventually be self-sustaining, the incoming HBA executive director would oversee some managerial duties for the CDC, as well as implement initial projects
Nicholls called the CDC a group of activists that plan for the long term, and said they would be “up and running” by the time he leaves in October. This will include board members, a working budget and a beginning work plan, taking up several projects the HBA has traditionally focused on in the past.
“I don’t see the CDC having an executive director until the CDC can stand on its own two feet,” Nicholls said. His goal is to not have the new HBA executive director be the staff of the CDC, saying he hoped instead to have the HBA director work to hire separate CDC staff to focus on their own priorities.
“We have a great team, and if we find a new person, they’re going to be in a really good spot to realize the goals of the board,” Nicholls said.
Interested individuals are encouraged to review the executive director job description at hillcrestbia.org. Candidates can turn in their applications directly to Nicholls at email@example.com through Sept. 9 at 5 p.m.