The Small Business community lost probably its greatest ally with the loss of Economic Development and Housing Manager Michelle De Guzman who recently tendered her resignation. De Guzman not only worked for the city, but was a [former] resident of Emeryville for 9 years which is a rarity for staff. De Guzman’s final day with the City of Emeryville will be November 18th. De Guzman’s departure is the latest in a series of high-profile departures that include City Manager Sabrina Landreth, City Attorney Michael Biddle and retirement of Police Chief Ken James all in the past year.
De Guzman began her career with the city in 2002 as a Community and Economic Development Coordinator. Michelle was instrumental in many of the City’s economic development and housing initiatives including small business assistance, the first time homebuyers’ program, and major development projects such as Bay Street. For the past 16 months, Michelle served as the Acting Manager of Economic Development and Housing overseeing functions such as affordable housing, public art, grants management and economic development including development and implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance. Michelle proposed a Oakland-based regional approach to a Minimum Wage increase and the implementation of a community survey in her initial report back in January. Her professional recommendations were ultimately dismissed by Council in lieu of implementing their highest in the nation model.
“I have greatly enjoyed my time as part of the Emeryville community, both as a nine-year resident and thirteen-year employee of the City of Emeryville. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work for and with such a dedicated and talented staff, and in such an engaging community. I have learned so much working here. In turn, I hope that my contributions over the years have helped to support the growth and vibrancy of Emeryville.” noted De Guzman in her letter of resignation. De Guzman will be taking a role with neighboring S.F. as a project manager with the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure and will be working on the implementation of the Mission Bay Project according to Planning & Building Director Charlie Bryant.
“We’re sorry to see Michelle depart Emeryville” noted East Bay Pilates co-owner Krisna Hanks who worked alongside Michelle as a member of the Economic Development Advisory Committee. “She was a positive addition to diverse collaborative efforts between the city and small business. Her energy and support will be missed.”
Michelle’s departure along with the dissolution of the Chamber of Commerce paints a grim scenario for the small business community who have struggled to have a voice with the current City Council. Bryant noted that he and City Manager Carolyn Lehr will work together to temporarily fill the role until the position can be permanently staffed.