With its new planning and zoning manager in place, the City of Rock Island’s Economic Development Department is fully staffed just as the city is set to spend millions in federal pandemic relief dollars.
Tanner Osing, an Augustana College graduate and native of Havana, Illinois, joined the city’s staff of professionals led by Miles Brainard, community and economic development director, on Monday, Oct. 3. The new planning and zoning manager is responsible for all land use regulation and long-range community planning efforts.
“After more than three years without a complete management team, the Community and Economic Development Department is back at full strength and ready to work harder than ever for the people of Rock Island,” Mr. Brainard said in a city news release.
That will be important as the city prepares to implement projects with the aid of $26.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and continues to make progress on existing ones.
Mr. Osing earned his bachelor’s degree in geography and public health from Augustana College and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Iowa. While at Iowa, he worked as a teaching assistant until his graduation in May 2022. Before that he worked for three years in transit planning for MetroLINK.
“I’m a Rock Island resident and fell in love with the different neighborhoods and businesses in the city,” Mr. Osing said in the release. “I wanted to bring my expertise back to a place that I love and improve it for everyone.”
He joins a team that includes Tarah Sipes, Rock Island’s economic development manager since March 2019. Her duties include seeking opportunities for Rock Island that align with the goals and needs of the community, the news release said. She also offers technical assistance and connects businesses to financial resources to help them expand or grow.
“My motivation for doing this job is to make Rock Island a better place for future generations, including my own kids,” Ms. Sipes said in the release. “I enjoy learning about the variety of businesses that make our city special.”
Jerad Irvine, an experienced city building inspector, was promoted to city building official in February. He oversees rental inspections, the health department, housing and property maintenance, and building inspections.
Mr. Irvine has 22 years of construction experience ranging from residential, industrial to commercial, including owning his own construction company. He was previously a construction manager for Hodge Construction.
“I want to share the knowledge I’ve obtained through my experience in the construction industry to help people in the community have successful projects,” Mr. Irvine said. “It’s important to build good relationships and help make Rock Island a place where people want to build.”
Nichole Mata was hired in May 2020 as the city’s housing officer and was promoted to community development manager in April. She oversees Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants and three different programs: Emergency, General and TARRP (Targeted Area Rehab and Repair Program).
“My goal as the community development manager is to help projects have more and happier engaged users,” Ms. Mata said. “I want to help individuals, families or whole communities bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area.”