RED BANK, NJ: It was announced last week that Jim Scavone, Executive Director of the Red Bank RiverCenter will be leaving that position on January 10th. He won’t be going far. Jim has accepted an offer from the Riverview Medical Center.
Jim had a tough job; juggling the different wants and needs of some 400 business and property owners, as well as answering to a Board of Directors and government officials.
The RiverCenter was formed in 1991 to manage Red Bank’s Special Improvement District, a legislative act passed by the NJ State Legislature to help the State’s many historic downtowns to survive in the face of competition from rapidly expanding shopping malls, big-box discounters, and (then), and economic recession.
Jim had a crucial role in transforming our town which was town dubbed “Dead Bank,” into an arts, dining, and shopping destination for tens of thousands of people each year. Red Bank is indeed, a “Cool little town.”
We asked Jim a series of questions on his thoughts of Red Bank, both past and future.
TAP: Tell us your responsibilities as Executive Director of the Red Bank RiverCenter
Scavone: As with most executive director positions, the main responsibility of the executive director at RiverCenter is to embody, advocate and operationalize the mission, vision and strategic plan of the organization. The Executive Director also serves as the face of the organization and serves as the main liaison to the business community, borough government and the larger Red Bank community. I also managed the staff and worked with them to implement the programs and services that RiverCenter offers.
TAP: You played a significant role in many aspects in advancing Red Bank as the “go-to” destination in the State. These included implementing a five-year strategic plan, attracting new customers to the town, the White Street Plaza project and the perennial parking situation. What was the most challenging?
Scavone: Each project has its own challenges, of course. The amount of time needed to coordinate the English Plaza/White Street Streetscape was significant, and working to get everyone to buy into a common vision and strategic plan was crucial. I think you have to identify the unique challenges of each situation and then work to the best of your ability to solve them.
TAP: Talk your management style working with the business members of the RiverCenter and the political leaders of Red Bank
Scavone: One of the most important roles the executive director plays is serving as the liaison between the organization and the entire business community as well as borough government. I strived to be up front and transparent and tried to always be available to listen to the concerns of all our stakeholders. The challenge comes in weighing all of the different viewpoints and opinions. When it comes down to it, you have to decide what is the best course of action for the organization as a whole.
TAP: What do you feel your biggest success was?
Scavone: I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together during my tenure at RiverCenter. I think some of the biggest successes were the visioning & strategic planning process and, of course, the recent streetscape project on English Plaza and White Street. I think a less “visible” success has been the improved relationship with our stakeholders, specifically borough government and business owners.
TAP: What do you believe are the biggest challenges that Red Bank faces in the future?
Scavone: Addressing the ever-changing world of retail and how that affects downtowns will continue to be a challenge. We’ve seen some exciting and thriving businesses come into town in recent years and I think the trend of more experiential businesses opening will continue.
TAP: Final thoughts?
Scavone: RiverCenter is a great organization that does a tremendous amount of work to advance the vitality of the Red Bank business district. I’m very grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve been afforded over the past nine years and I know the great work the organization does will continue.
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