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Peter Cervelli

By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter


After a brief hiatus from Dade public life – roughly three weeks, as the Sentinel counts it – Peter Cervelli, erstwhile Trenton Better Hometown Manager, former Dade District 4 County Commission, transplanted Yankee and numbers man extraordinaire, this week leaps back into action as Dade’s new “industrial development developer.”

At a special called meeting on Friday, the Dade Industrial Development Authority (IDA) hired Cervelli to work toward bringing more industry and more jobs into the county. Cervelli will work 30 hours a week and IDA will pay him a salary of $30,000 per year.

“It’s become a full-time job, and we all have other jobs,” said John Bradford, IDA’s secretary/treasurer.  “It’s hard for us to go out and do it.”

The IDA is a self-governing public/private entity independent of the county government, managed solely by its board of directors. Besides Bradford, that board is comprised of Nathan Wooten, chairman; Doug Anderton, vice chair; Dora Crisp, Larry Case and Larry Moore.

Bradford explained that IDA’s income derives from two sources: leftover funds from a previous SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax), and the sale of property it bought with those earlier revenues. “We don’t have any monthly, steady income,” he said. “It just comes from the sale of property.”

He said the IDA currently had about $50,000 in available funds – SPLOST funds may not be used for salaries – which will take care of Cervelli’s pay for over a year. After that, he said, he hopes Cervelli will have brought enough new business to Dade to generate more revenues.

Bradford said that before the IDA closed its recent deal to expand the county’s industrial park through the purchase of 200-plus acres of farmland, it hadn’t had much to offer prospective new industry beyond three leftover acres in the existing park. “We’re just now getting ready to start trying to push it and get industry in here,” he said. “We feel like we’re kind of on the runway now.”

The IDA’s impetus in this push toward expansion, said Bradford, is to keep Dade vital as a place to live. “It’s to create jobs, and to keep some of our folks from having to go out of town to find work,” he said.

As for Cervelli himself, he said the work would be to some extent a continuation, or at any rate an expansion, of what he’d been doing as Trenton’s Better Hometown Manager. “There’s a line of knowledge that I’ve been able to pick up, working with people at the state level and the regional commission,” he said. “So those relationships are going to be useful, and the knowledge that I picked up along the way, we can reuse a lot of it.”

Cervelli said his first lines of attack would be marketing Dade as a place attractive to prospective businesses and getting the new industrial area ready for primetime. “We’ve got to work on making that a viable place we can bring people, where they can see that there’s infrastructure going in, it’s not just a field with trees on it,” he said.

Cervelli’s initial inquiry after accepting IDA’s job offer on Friday was what his title would be. After that was settled, he went on to even more basic considerations. “The other question I have is where will I sit?” he asked. “Where will I go?”

IDA Chairman Nathan Wooten couldn’t help him there. “We’ll have to work out all of the logistics,” said Wooten. “I don’t know if it’ll be here [the Dade Administrative Building], maybe at the old courthouse, maybe at the Chamber. We’ll work all that out.” 

A native New Yorker, Cervelli moved to Dade in retirement after a career in management in the Northeast. Here he immediately dived into managing a broad array of civic and community projects not only as an employee of the city and, later, an elected official in the county, but also as an energetic and active volunteer in any number of clubs and nonprofit organizations.  

He began work at Trenton in 2004 as a part-timer, went full-time as the Better Hometown program expanded, then lost his job suddenly and spectacularly in a surprise downsizing in April 2012 under the leadership of a new mayor. The hole he left in the city organization was attested to by the mass resignation of the Downtown Development Authority board of directors in reaction to his firing.

As for the county, Cervelli won the District 4 commission seat as a Republican in the 2008 general election. He lost it last year to Allan Bradford in the July primary, Cervelli’s second career blow in just three months.

At that point, Cervelli had declared publicly he knew how to let go. And indeed, to give him credit, he did resist Dade’s siren call for just under a month. 

For now, Dade’s new industrial development developer may be reached through the Dade County Commission – (706) 657-4625.

Visitor Comments
Submitted By: Tom Submitted: 2/5/2013
A small airport might pull in some FAA grant money, serve the aviation community that already exists here, and might serve the business community as well. Hang gliding pulls in a fair amount of tourism. We might also get some traffic in sailplanes, bringing more visitors to Dade County.

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