WALLINGFORD — After a year without one, the town again has an economic development director, and he's a familiar face to many residents.
Don Crouch recently began his new position as the head of the town's Economic Development Department, taking over the position that has been vacant since former director Tim Ryan retired in June 2022. During the extended search, Economic Development Commission Chairman Joe Mirra took a leave from that position to fill in as acting director, and with Crouch's hiring, Mirra will return to the commission.
Crouch graduated from Lyman Hall High School and earned a degree in political science at the University of Connecticut. He is a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission and a former chairman.
He spent the last year working as the resource and development officer at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Haven, and before that worked in the same position at the Ulbrich Boys and Girls Club in Wallingford.
“Don’s extensive business experience will be an asset to his new position. During his interview he showed a true passion for Wallingford,” Mirra said. “That, coupled with his background in marketing and resource development, will make him a very valued representative for the town of Wallingford.”
Crouch said he was looking for a change, and thought the job was a good fit.
“After four years with the Boys and Girls Club, I was looking for a new challenge, especially after COVID,” Crouch said. As part of his position with the club, he met several times with Ryan, he said, so he was familiar with what the job entails.
“I met with Tim Ryan a few times with the club, so I understood the job,” he said. “For me, it was, ‘what else can I do for the community?’ and I thought this was the next step. I felt that with this I can use my whole skill set for the whole town.”
After a few weeks in the position, Crouch said his main task is listening.
“Right now I’ve been on a listening tour, meeting with business owners, getting to know the EDC commissioners, meeting the town department leaders, trying to get a handle on where we are,” he said. “There are a lot of projects that have been just sitting around so I’m really just getting my feet wet on seeing where we are. There’s definitely a few projects that are going to be coming up like our incentive housing zone downtown, trying to bring more development down to lower Center Street. Those projects I know are on the horizon, but right now mostly I’m just listening.”
Mayor William Dickinson Jr. said Crouch is “just what we need.”
“He is familiar with a lot of the businesses, he’s been involved with fundraising, he understands the development of programs. He is very comfortable in dealing with multiple contacts such as realtors and businesses and understanding what their needs are and combining that with the town’s opportunities and availability,” Dickinson said. “We look forward to him being a cheerleader who encourages interest for those interested in locating to Wallingford.”