City selects economic coordinator
After several months without one, DeSoto again has an economic development coordinator.
Marge Morse was chosen last week from four applicants to fill the position. The city's newly-formed economic development committee chose Morse after half-hour interviews with each candidate.
Chamber of Commerce President Pat Atchison said the applicants were given the same 10 questions and were scored by each committee member on a scale of one to five on each question. The committee recommended Morse who scored the highest.
City council members decided last year to do away with the economic development position temporarily while the role of the coordinator was redefined.
Days after accepting the position, Morse said she was still learning what her duties would include. A job description passed on to her by city administrator Gerald Cooper gave her some idea where to start.
Morse will work directly under Cooper and be responsible for all economic development activities in the city.
She will create short and long-term development plans and implement or oversee implementation of those plans. She will be expected to maintain up-to-date knowledge of city, state and federal programs available for the enhancement of tourism and economic development.
The job description also calls for her to monitor state and city tax abatement incentives and prepare cost-benefit analyses of those incentives.
Before the position was filled, Cooper said he would like to find someone familiar with DeSoto who had some business experience. He found both with Morse.
Morse has lived in DeSoto her entire life and has been an active member of the Chamber of Commerce since its inception.
She and her husband Ted owned the Apple Mart grocery store for years and still own its building. They also own a DeSoto laundromat.
Morse said she looks forward to the opportunity to help shape her hometown as it continues to grow.
"It's going to be a challenge. I've lived in DeSoto my whole and I want to see it go in the right direction," she said. "I really do love this town. I think it's a great place to live."
Already familiar with Morse and her work, Cooper said he believes the committee made a good choice.
"She's shown a lot of community involvement over the years and last year did a real bang up job on the Watermelon Festival," he said. "That took a lot of coordination and dedication to work with people from inside and outside the community. I think anyone with that type of demonstrated ability will do a great job for the city."
Morse will also serve as the executive director of the chamber of commerce. Chamber members decided at their last meeting to offer the $300 a month position to the person selected for the economic development position.