Economic vitality administrator starts Feb. 6

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County: Greg Fisher has spent most of his life in the Southwest

Los Alamos County’s first economic vitality administrator, Scott Frederick, held the position for less than seven months before being terminated in November 2010. Less than a month later, County Administrator Tony Mortillaro also was terminated. The position of economic vitality administrator - along with several other key positions - fell into limbo, awaiting the appointment of a new county administrator.

The wait is over. Greg Fisher has been hired to implement the county’s Economic Vitality Strategic Plan.

“I’m honored to be selected for this position. There is such a great leadership team in place,” Fisher said. “It’s also nice to come into a community where the strategic plan for economic development is already very well thought out.”

Fisher grew up in Southern Arizona and has spent most of his life in the Southwest. He is currently executive director of the Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation in Southern New Mexico.

His references speak highly of his work there. Fisher has attracted $12 million in new business investment since 2008, ranging from large manufacturing to renewable energy and retail development.

Fisher has been a  Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) since 1997, one of only 1,200 people in the United States to qualify for that title. He has experience in rural, technical and environmental business development, sustainable job development, industrial land use planning and international business.

Fisher’s accomplishments range from developing and marketing telecommunications services for US West Inc./Qwest Communications Inc. in Denver, Colo., and KPN Telekom in the Netherlands to developing a multimodal roadway improvement plan as project manager for the City of Tucson transportation department.

Fisher also founded an Arizona Department of Commerce Environmental Business Development Program in 1994, which attracted $500 million in new construction investment and more than 900 sustainable or “green” manufacturing jobs.

Fisher serves on two working groups for the State of New Mexico, the New Mexico Green Grid working group and the Biofuels Plan development committee. Fisher’s familiarity with “how things work in New Mexico” was one of the reasons he landed the position, according to Acting Community Development Director Steven Brugger, a member of the selection committee.

“He is very professional and very energetic,” Brugger continued. “He seems to understand the many interrelationships between planning and economic development. He is also very knowledgeable about the tools and programs to increase economic development.”

The committee was also impressed by Fisher’s communication skills and how he had familiarized himself with the county’s priorities before the interview.

Thomas Bowles, senior fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith also serve on the Green Grid, and Fisher was first introduced to Los Alamos through them. That sparked his interest in the economic development position.

“I’ve always wanted to live and work in Northern New Mexico, and having the opportunity to work in Los Alamos before (on Green Grid projects) introduced me to what a high quality community it is,” Fisher said. Fisher fell in love with the area on a trip to Bandelier National Monument when he was nine years old.

“Los Alamos has a very unique place in the world,” Fisher said. “My goal is to improve the quality of life and to nurture opportunity. First and foremost will be protecting and nurturing the growth of the lab and encouraging that population to stay in Los Alamos. Diversifying business and housing are important elements of that.”

Fisher does not intend to come in spouting ideas. “One of my key tasks in the first few months is to listen a lot and find out what is on people’s minds and to support the team effort,” Fisher said. “And there are some great teams to work with there.”

On a personal level, Fisher is excited about the outdoor opportunities in Los Alamos. “There is far too much tread on my mountain bike tires.”

Fisher’s seven-year-old daughter should also fit right in. “She literally wants to be a rocket scientist, so this is a great opportunity for her.”

Fisher starts his position on Feb. 6.