Marc Conte Named Acting Executive Director
Cleve Ricksecker, the founding executive director of both the Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts (SIDs), will retire on May 31, 2020. Marc Conte who currently serves as Deputy Director of Research, Planning & Facilities will become Acting Executive Director on June 1.
“Cleve has been a tremendous leader who has done so much good for all of downtown Columbus,” said Matthew Miller, Chair of the Discovery SID board. “His leadership has been crucial during the decades-long revitalization of downtown.”
“Cleve is a visionary leader who knows how to transform visions into reality,” said Kermit Whitfield, Chair of the Capital Crossroads SID. “It is hard to overestimate his positive impact on Columbus during his long career of service.”
Cleve led the launch of the Capital Crossroads SID in 2000, a time when downtown had a fraction of its current residents and development and was marred by litter and graffiti. The SID, which is funded by assessments on property owners, assembled a team of uniformed ambassadors whose mission of “clean and safe” helped make the Columbus downtown one of the cleanest and most well-maintained in the country.
Over the years, the SID has added projects like adding and maintaining flower baskets on High Street, maintaining the planters surrounding the Statehouse and the landscaping on Gay Street and Nationwide Boulevard that have beautified the downtown. The SID also added vibrancy by operating the Pearl Market, a farmers’ market in Lynn and Pearl Alleys. In 2018, the Capital Crossroads SID partnered with COTA and MORPC to launch the highly successful Downtown C-pass program that provides free transit to employees within the SID. The program doubled the number of transit users among eligible employees.
In 2007, Cleve worked with property owners on the eastern side of downtown to start the Discovery SID, with an emphasis on safety, to support the growing population and pedestrian traffic in the area. Today DSID continues its efforts to create and maintain a safe, vibrant, diverse and walkable mixed-use neighborhood. Under his leadership, the bike ambassadors and special duty police officers collaborate to provide year-round supplemental safety services. In addition, two homeless outreach coordinators provide support for people experiencing homelessness.
Marc Conte has worked for the SIDs for 13 years and has been a key leader in all their accomplishments. He is recognized as an expert in downtown Columbus and will bring his substantial experience to bear in his new role. Lisa Defendiefer, Deputy Director of Operations & Advocacy, will continue to lead the crucial “clean and safe” work of the SIDs.
Within the next six months, the boards of the SIDs plan to launch a nationwide search for a new executive director.
Cleve Ricksecker serves as the President of SID Public Services Association and is Executive Director of two special improvement Districts, Capital Crossroads and Discovery, since 2000 and 2005, respectively. Ricksecker manages the work of all three organizations, working with more than 800 property owners who control more than $2 billion of property and house about 85,000 employees.
Capital Crossroads and Discovery SIDs are associations of commercial and residential property owners that provide funding for district-wide safety, cleaning, outreach, and promotional services, as well as capital improvements to the public realm. The SIDs are funded primarily by assessments on properties. SID Public Services Association executes the charitable functions of the two SIDs.
Ricksecker previously served as executive director of the Riverfront Commons Corporation. The RCC created a master plan for nine miles of riverfront from Dodridge Street near the Ohio State University to Route 104 on the south side of Columbus. The riverfront plan identifies land for parks and public spaces, as well as areas for residential and commercial development sites along the river corridor.
Cleve Ricksecker served as executive director of the Short North Business Association for five and a half years. There, he directed promotions for the Short North commercial district and forged a consensus among area stakeholders to pursue several, long-range goals. They included the country’s only speculative commercial development over an interstate highway and the creation of a special improvement district in the Short North that financed 17 iconic arches along the neighborhood’s commercial spine.
From 1987 through 1991, he served as general manager of the Columbus Arts Festival. Prior to 1987, he directed career counseling, admissions, financial aid, and affirmative action for Capital University Law School.
Ricksecker is an urbanist who has lived 59 or his 67 years without owning a personal vehicle, choosing to walk, bike and use public transportation. He resides in Victorian Village with his wife, Lisa.
Marc Conte has extensive experience with urban planning and environmental policy. He serves as the Deputy Director of Research, Planning, and Facilities for the Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts in downtown Columbus.
His main duties include market research and tracking data as it relates to the overall health of downtown Columbus and the impact of revitalization efforts. He also assists with the planning and design of several proposed capital improvement projects in the downtown right-of-way.
Prior to his current position, Marc worked for Capitol South Community Urban Development Corporation and Columbus Downtown Development Corporation as research director and director of parking operations.
Marc earned a master’s degree in public administration and a BA in critical cultural studies, both from Ohio State University.
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