Ex-Youngstown mayor nominated to head U.S. Economic Development Administration

the white house

By David Skolnick



President Barack Obama is nominating former Youngs-town Mayor Jay Williams to head the U.S. Economic Development Administration and ex-Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland as an alternate representative to the United Nations.

The White House made the announcements late Tuesday, just before the Democratic president addressed the nation about Syria.

Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation with Williams first needing the approval of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and Strickland going to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Both are Democrats.

If confirmed, Williams’ official title would be U.S. Department of Commerce assistant secretary for economic development. The EDA leads the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and collaboration, and helping communities build the foundation for long-term growth, according to the White House.

The agency distributes million of dollars in grants to help job creation in economically-distressed parts of the nation with a focus on creating jobs through regional collaboration, according to The Washington Post.

The position has been filled on an acting basis since John R. Fernandez, a former mayor of Bloomington, Ind., resigned in March 2, 2012 to take a private-sector job.

“President Obama has selected two great Ohioans to serve the United States on both the national and international stages,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th.

“Both Ted Strickland and Jay Williams have selflessly pursued a career in public service, and every Ohioan and American is better off because of the contributions they have made, and will continue to make for the United States.”

Ryan said Obama “couldn’t have chosen a better or more qualified person [than Williams] to take over the immense responsibility that comes with this job.”

After six and a half years as Youngstown mayor, Williams resigned on Aug. 1, 2011, to be the executive director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, a job that had him as the federal pointman on helping communities and workers adversely impacted by the struggles of the domestic automotive business.

On June 8, 2012, Williams was selected as deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, a job that had him work on behalf of the White House with elected officials from cities, towns and counties.

Neither Ryan nor U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland, mentioned Williams work in that office in statements congratulating the former mayor.

Brown’s statement focused largely on Williams being the president’s “top adviser for auto communities,” and that he “was instrumental in helping communities take the next steps following the auto rescue.”

Their offices likely relied on the official White House statement on the nominees that failed to mention Williams’ current job inside the White House.

Williams and Strickland are among 29 people nominated Tuesday by Obama for key administration posts.

Strickland last ran for office in 2010, failing to be re-elected to governor for a second four-year term. Strickland also opted not to run for governor in next year’s election, and currently works as chairman of a Columbus-based consulting firm.

As alternate representative to the United Nations, Strickland would assisting the U.S. permanent representative. Besides Strickland, Obama also nominated Stephen N. Zack, an attorney, and Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, a special adviser at the Department of State and former U.S. ambassador to Portugal, as alternate representatives to the U.N.

Strickland, who represented all of Columbiana County and the southern portion of Mahoning County in the U.S. House for four years, would move to the New York City area for this job if confirmed.

Ryan said he was “not surprised the president has chosen him for this important position at the United Nations. He has a long record of public service.”

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