Lenni Giacin was transitioning in the workforce when she heard about an opening for interim director of Ottawa Main Street Association.
“Ottawa has a lot of potential, there’s a lot of things changing and moving and businesses are coming in,” Giacin said Friday from her office inside the Plaza Theater, 209 S. Main St., Ottawa.
As a longtime volunteer for the association, Giacin gained the knowledge and background on how it runs to feel “confident” when applying for the position, she said. Tuesday night, the Main Street board voted to drop interim from Giacin’s title and name her director.
“The Main Street board has been very pleased with what Lenni has done in this six months that she’s been our interim, and she’s really stepped up and just been involved in a big way,” Steve Geiss, chair of the association’s board, said last week. “There’s just a lot of stuff that goes on downtown that the community is not totally aware of that Ottawa Main Street sponsors.”
Last October, the board agreed to make a decision on a new director by April 1, Giacin said. The decision had to be made whether Giacin would continue in the position, or if the board would start another search for a director.
“I told [the board] that I enjoyed the job and I liked what I was doing, and I was hopefully being helpful to the group in all my work capacities,” Giacin said. “I wanted to make sure that what I was doing was what they wanted me to be doing. They had set up a list of goals, and I wanted to make sure I listed all my goals, or what I had accomplished throughout these last six months.”
Whichever way the board would have chosen, Giacin said she still would have volunteered for Main Street.
“I believe in what Main Street does, and the promotions and the way we can help people with their buildings, and things like that...Either way was going to be good,” she said.
Communication is another strong aspect Giacin brings to the table, Geiss said.
“Not only communicating to the public, but communicating to our other members, communicating between us and the chamber and the city, and keeping that communication line open,” he said. “She’s done a really good job of doing that for us.”
Giacin welcomes new businesses to town, looks for grant opportunities and attends a multitude of community meetings, including those for the city commission and Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, according to Geiss.
“She’s does a really good job the way she represents us, that’s probably one of the biggest attributes that we asked of her, and she’s done more than that,” Geiss said.
Now that she has officially assumed the position of director, Giacin can get started on some of the projects she’s looking forward to.
“History is a big thing with me, as far as I want to make sure things are maintained, and so whatever I can learn in the few months or the next year, I’d like to apply that kind of knowledge to the downtown, since we are a historical district,” she said.
And, she added, things are looking up for businesses in Ottawa, especially downtown.
“I get calls all the time from people that are looking at buildings or wanting to rent, or wanting to buy,” Giacin said. “To me, that’s exciting because it gives me a chance to find out different perspectives on businesses. That’s what I’m looking forward to — the next step. Filling the downtown businesses and making everybody aware of what we have down here.”
Susan Welte is a Herald staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org