July 24, 2005: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Economic Development: Service: Dallas News: Bolivia RPCV Karl Zavitkovsky is Dallas' new director of economic development

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bolivia: Peace Corps Bolivia : The Peace Corps in Bolivia: July 24, 2005: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Economic Development: Service: Dallas News: Bolivia RPCV Karl Zavitkovsky is Dallas' new director of economic development

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Bolivia RPCV Karl Zavitkovsky is Dallas' new director of economic development

Bolivia RPCV Karl Zavitkovsky is Dallas' new director of economic development

The former head of Bank of America's commercial real estate division in the Central U.S. is now focused on a challenging turnaround: restoring the city's economic development staff and revamping its efforts to boost business activity in Dallas.

Bolivia RPCV Karl Zavitkovsky is Dallas' new director of economic development

Angela Shah:
Former bank exec invests time in Dallas

08:36 PM CDT on Sunday, July 24, 2005

Karl Zavitkovsky didn't choose the most likely of retirement options.

While many corporate executives decide to spend more time on philanthropic pursuits, he found another way to give back.

Earlier this month, Mr. Zavitkovsky came on board as the city of Dallas' director of economic development.

The former head of Bank of America's commercial real estate division in the Central U.S. is now focused on a challenging turnaround: restoring the city's economic development staff and revamping its efforts to boost business activity in Dallas.

"I think it's our responsibility to try and create an environment in which most people or companies would want to invest and live here," he said.

That's no small task.

"One of the things that was very clear is that Dallas is looking at an economic reality," he said. "We're not a boomtown anymore. We're a maturing city with all the goods and bads that are related to that."

Middle age

Underneath its Sun Belt reputation, Dallas suffers from the ailments of middle age.

The entrepreneurial spirit that defines Dallas to much of the world has lost some of its potency. Indeed, Dallas no longer dominates as the region's economic engine.

The city's civic infrastructure has begun to show the effects of a lack of proper investment over the years. And City Hall which slashed its economic development staff a few years ago was ill-equipped to do much about it.

In the last year, City Hall has beefed up the department in people and resources. Mr. Zavitkovsky and his staff are busy putting together a strategic plan for the City Council's review in late August.

Dallas is not his first turnaround project. Mr. Zavitkovsky joined the Texas banking corps in 1984, right before the state's financial institutions languished in a hangover induced by the crash in real estate and energy.

A Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia, he also worked with Citigroup in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Caracas, Venezuela. Mr. Zavitkovsky also earned a master's degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

That wide and varied portfolio prompted city leaders in January to have Mr. Zavitkovsky lead a task force composed of local business and nonprofit chiefs.

The group was charged with helping the economic development department set goals and fashion ideas to meet those objectives.

Harsh conclusions

In May, the task force produced a 45-page report that offered some harsh conclusions.

Dallas, the report said, lacks not only an economic development vision but also a supporting comprehensive strategy. And the city hadn't effectively engaged the private sector those buying and building in Dallas.

Still, the group pointed to reasons for optimism. Dallas' historical role as a financial center and a transportation hub is still relevant today.

"Let's build on what we've done in the past, and put together a model that takes advantage of Dallas' strengths," Mr. Zavitkovsky said in a recent interview.

Dallas' long-distressed southern half could be the key to its economic revival, the task force points out. Redeveloping southern Dallas will probably have a dedicated team at City Hall.

Mr. Zavitkovsky understands that the transition from private to public sector could have its challenges. Not only will he be nurturing a strategic plan and reconnecting with corporate Dallas, he will have to dodge City Hall politics and a council likely to be distracted by an FBI investigation.

"You always have to understand that you're dealing with colors of gray," he said, adding he's only received support from individual council members.

"But, yes, you have to keep your eye on the focus on the major priorities," he said. "It's how you go about the implementation process that's the art."

E-mail ashah@dallasnews.com





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Story Source: Dallas News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bolivia; Economic Development; Service

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