St. Paul, Mpls. Are Now Both Seeking Development Directors

Cecile Bedor is leaving her longtime role with the city of St. Paul for a position at Greater MSP.

Cecile Bedor, the long-serving director of St. Paul’s Planning and Economic Development (PED) department, will leave the city to join Greater MSP as executive vice president.

After leading the development department for eight years, Bedor’s last day with the city will be May 8. Her tenure with the agency ranks her as the longest-serving PED director in St. Paul’s history.

Bedor’s move means that both Minneapolis and St. Paul are now searching for leaders for their respective development agencies.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, who took office in early January, has not yet nominated someone to lead the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department, which oversees both real estate and business development.

“Mayor Hodges has hired a search firm and is moving forward in the process,” Hodges' spokeswoman Kate Brickman told Twin Cities Business on Thursday morning. “She’s asked them to think broadly and creatively, and also to move quickly.”

Brickman said that the Spring Park-based Chandler Group was hired in March to handle the search. But she said that it was too soon to outline a timetable for when Hodges expects to nominate a new leader for the city’s CPED department.

When she took office, Hodges declined to nominate Jeremy Hanson Willis, who had led CPED since 2012 under Mayor R.T. Rybak, who did not seek reelection last year. Chuck Lutz is currently serving as the interim director for the Minneapolis CPED department.

In St. Paul, the city’s announcement of Bedor’s departure indicated that St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman would name a replacement “in the coming months.” The city has not named an interim director for St. Paul’s PED department.

Bedor is joining Greater MSP, a St. Paul-based nonprofit economic development organization that was launched in 2011. The group’s goal is to promote business expansion, retention, and recruitment in the 16-county metro area.

During her time in St. Paul, Bedor oversaw projects including the rezoning of Central Corridor along University Avenue, the Penfield project, and the Lofts at Farmers Market. The last two projects were apartment projects where the city of St. Paul stepped in to act as the developer when the deals were languishing. The city’s role as developer drew criticism from some private apartment owners.

“Cecile has been a true asset for the City of Saint Paul, cultivating successes in historically difficult economic times, and it is hard to see her go,” Coleman said in a statement. “I have no doubt Cecile will bring her tenacity and dedication to her new post at Greater MSP, and I look forward to working with her as we continue our partnership with Greater MSP.”

In a separate announcement, Coleman's office said Thursday that Kristin Beckmann has been appointed the new St. Paul deputy mayor, succeeding Paul Williams, who left to serve as executive director for the nonprofit Project for Pride in Living. Beckmann, who currently serves as the vice president of programs and services at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, will assume her new role on May 19.