Jose Madrigal, the new city manager, will begin his tenure leading Durango with a listening tour – an effort to hear from residents and city employees about what city government is doing well, where it needs to improve and where it needs to be more active.
Madrigal, who spent his first day on the job working remotely Monday, said he plans to be in town by Sept. 21.
“The first order of business is to meet everyone on staff. I’ve had some virtual meetings, but it’s important to meet in person, and to meet the community,” Madrigal said, addressing the monthly La Plata County Economic Development Alliance investors meeting held Tuesday on Zoom.
Three qualities of high-performing organizations – resiliency, strategic planning and establishing a clear mission statement and values – will be areas he will examine early upon his arrival, he said.
Resiliency and sustainability are especially critical given the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
A hot real estate market in Durango is something especially beneficial, he said. He noted many corporate leaders are looking to move from urban areas, and Durango is among rural locales benefiting from that trend.
“Many cities I have worked with in my consultancy aren’t experiencing any kind of growth during the pandemic. In fact, they’re looking at people leaving,” he said.
With many high-income business leaders looking to move their personal residences to the Western Slope, Madrigal said it’s important to examine how the region can also persuade them to move their businesses as well.
“We want to look at what it will take to convince them to make their permanent business home in Durango,” he said.
Michael French, executive director of the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance, said Madrigal’s interest in building on the region’s hot high-end real estate market dovetails with a new program the alliance is beginning to attract remote workers.
COVID-19 has led to a boom among corporations allowing employees to work from home, and that’s something the alliance hopes to take advantage of with a program designed specifically to attract remote workers, French said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated an already strong trend toward increased remote work, he said.
“We’re looking at remote-worker recruitment,” French said. “We’re looking at how we can integrate them into the existing community.”
Finding a better accommodation than the temporary campsite at Purple Cliffs for the city’s homeless residents and finding the right person to serve as finance director as the city finalizes its budget, Madrigal said, will be at the top of his to-do list when he arrives Monday in Durango.