Since the city eliminated a community development director position, downtown retail vacancies have increased to 10 percent of the available space, double what it was in 2007.
At the same time, fewer businesses have applied for assistance through the city's revolving loan fund.
That data, along with responses from a citizen survey, indicate that the city isn't doing enough to spur economic growth. This is the driving force behind a proposal to create a new economic development coordinator position.
While the overall budget for the new position will be $90,000, only $10,000 of it will come from the city. The remainder will come from money currently in the revolving fund program and Micro-Enterprise Program fund.
Both of those programs could fund the new position for two or three years, according to a report prepared for city council, but it is expected that the coordinator will bring in additional grants to make the position self-sustaining.
"If it's not successful after two years, we'll find another approach," said City Manager Jason Molino.
The city is cutting $15,000 from its grant-writing/consulting budget and shifting $10,000 to the new position, for a budgetary savings of $5,000.
Molino said a big part of the new coordinator's job -- the position will have a salary range of $55,000 to $70,000 -- will be to spur small business growth.
The report says a lot of smaller projects, rather than one big project, is what's needed to drive economic growth, especially downtown, which the report says is key to Batavia's economic vitality.
Between 2003 and 2004, according to the report, the revolving loan fund provided $368,500 in loan assistance for 32 projects.
After the previous economic development position was eliminated, from 2008 to 2009, the program provided only $55,000 in assistance for three projects.
The earlier effort created or retained 111.5 jobs, while the job impact in 2008-2009 covered only 34 positions.
The report also notes that in the recent citizen survey, "economic development/job growth" was the number one service-area concern among residents, ahead of public safety. The survey also indicated that economic growth is also where the city is perceived to be having the smallest impact.
City council has yet to vote on the proposed new economic development coordinator position.