One person who works for the city of Lakeland, two who work elsewhere in Florida and one from Ohio are finalists to become the city of Lakeland’s new community development director, replacing Jim Studiale, who retired in October. All four candidates are being interviewed this week, and City Manager Tony Delgado said he should make a selection by the first week of June.

The local candidate is Nicole Travis, 36, director of the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Authority. She has worked for the city since 2010 and has a master’s degree in business administration from Florida Metropolitan University.

The other finalists are:

Thomas Barnett, development services director for Hollywood, Fla., since 2016. He received a master’s degree in public administration from Murray State University in 1994.

Benjamin Dunn, development services director for Highlands County since 2015 and before that a senior transportation planner for Polk County. He has a maser’s degree in public administration from Troy State University.

James Schimmer, 59, economic development and planning director for Franklin County, Ohio, (its county seat is Columbus) since 2006. He has a master’s degree in geography from the University of North Dakota.

This information sheet on the four candidates was available this afternoon at a meet-and-greet session for the four candidates at the Magnolia Building:

The four finalists came from a list of 65 applicants who met the minimum requirements set by the city.

Delgado has said he is looking for a new director with economic development experience. The committee that helped pare the list includes:  Deputy City Manager Brad Johnson, Assistant City Manager Shawn Sherrouse, Lakeland Economic Development Council President Steve Scruggs, Lakeland Chamber of Commerce President Cory Skeates, Lakeland Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Julie Townsend, Florida Southern College Vice President Terry Dennis, and Ashley Troutman, a resident who has served on a number of Polk County citizens’ boards.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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