Director of Economic Development takes office at Johns Creek | Johns Creek News
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — For Randall Toussaint, landing the job of director of economic development for Johns Creek was a dream come true.
“Some kids want to grow up and be astronauts, some want to play in the big leagues. I’ve always wanted to do economic development,” Toussaint said. “I didn’t know what it was called at first, but I I really felt a call to understand how to help communities understand how to grow their economies in a way that truly met the goals of that community.”
Growing up in a military family and living on bases spurred Toussaint’s interest in what makes a city. From an early age, he takes a critical look at the different communities in which he lives and dissects their sense of place.
“As we got older, we moved [Washington D.C.] the metro area and local news were always talking about major funding bills that would send money to help communities grow and grow,” Toussaint said. “So, as a high school student, I wanted to know more about it. How does it work? What happens once the money comes in, where does the money go and why?”
This spark of interest was ignited when Toussaint studied at Morehouse College under one of the nation’s greatest urban developers, the late Joe Johnson.
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From there, Toussaint continued his graduate studies at Savannah State University and worked with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development on a scholarship.
After graduating, Toussaint worked with public and private entities on the East Coast, including the Georgia State Department of Economic Development, where he helped recruit companies to relocate their headquarters and bring d other major developments at the state.
“I feel like this mix of city work and heavy corporate recruiting really prepared me for this role,” Toussaint said. “I think the leadership at Johns Creek has done an incredible job of developing a vision and a plan, and I think my role is to support that as staff by helping move forward with what they perceive. as the next steps to execute this vision.”
Toussaint joined the staff of the town of Johns Creek on January 3 and hit the ground running.
During the first month, Toussaint said he attended meetings and focused on listening.
“I really took the time to have very deliberate meetings with community leaders, business leaders, people who have an interest and a passion for the city and ask them questions,” Toussaint said. “I’m trying to get a better understanding of their vision and their understanding of the city’s history and the direction they’re envisioning.”
That way, Toussaint said, he can do his job in a manner consistent with city council, but also with an understanding of public sentiment.
In October, Johns Creek’s former director of economic development, Chris Cannon, stepped down and the city launched its search for a replacement, City Manager Ed Densmore said.
After conducting two months of interviews, Toussaint was officially offered the job in December.
“With more than a decade of experience in economic development, Randall brings a wide range of professionalism and industry knowledge that has elevated him to the perfect strategic fit for the city,” Densmore said. “Adding him to the Johns Creek team…will significantly enhance the city’s ability to provide the highest quality economic development services to existing and potential businesses.”
At the City Council retreat on January 28 and 29, members made economic development one of their priorities for the year.
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Toussaint will work in tandem with council members, city staff and community organizations like the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce to help attract business and development to downtown and other areas being considered for redevelopment. .
“I think part of my role will be engaging in strategic partnership, which is the fancy term for meeting people and making friends,” Toussaint said. “And the second part of that will just be exploring how these collaborations can move the plan forward.”
A month later, Toussaint said he was happy with his new role and excited about talks about the city’s future.
“I love it,” Toussaint said. “It’s only been a few weeks, but I hope these conversations can continue in the future.”
To reach Sydney Dangremond at 770-847-7404. Follow her on Twitter @syddang_.