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
“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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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?”
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.