Here’s Fresno’s new economic development director. What does this mean for downtown?

The city of Fresno has named a new economic development director, and she comes from within the city’s administration.

Mayor Lee Brand and City Manager Wilma Quan said Thursday in a joint news release that Lupe Perez would move from her management position for the city’s Downtown Revitalization department to the economic development director job.

“This is a key position for City Hall and I think we are incredibly fortunate to have someone as competent and well-respected as Lupe to lead our economic development efforts,” Quan said in the release. “Her expertise in development is perfectly suited with the administration’s mission to attract new businesses to Fresno and helping existing ones grow.”

She fills a position left empty since June, when Larry Westerlund resigned following about five years in the job.

Perez has managed the downtown effort since June 2014, according to the news release. In that role, she oversaw the mayor’s downtown revitalization efforts and facilitated development, business attraction and retention. She also addressed downtown design and land use issues, and planned events and festivals on Fulton Street.

Brand said he’s worked with Perez ever since his days on the City Council (2011-17), describing her as talented with excellent people skills.

“I’m especially pleased that Lupe shares my vision for job creation and is ready to hit the ground running to help us build on our momentum and continue to improve the quality of life for everyone in Fresno.” Brand said in the news release.

Before working for the city of Fresno, the release said, Perez worked for 16 years with the now-defunct Fresno Redevelopment Agency, holding roles like project coordinator and project manager.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much Perez will make, but the economic development director position pays between $133,980 and $192,276, according to the city’s salary schedule.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.