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updated: 6/9/2014 5:52 PM

DNA lays off economic development director

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The Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin began restructuring its organization by laying off its economic development director while planning to hire someone in charge of promotions.

DNA Executive Director Deirdre White will take on the economic development role served by Don Obenauf, who had been hired in February 2013, DNA Board President Karin Jones said.

The decision to lay off Obenauf was made at the May 27 board meeting, with only board vice president Tom Brockner absent, she said. His last day was June 2.

"Everybody felt it would be a seamless transition for (White) to take over (Obenauf's role)," Jones said.

The organization is going back to the structure it had until 2012, when the executive director managed all aspects of the organization, including economic development, Jones said.

Having an economic development director and executive director at the same time ended up limiting both roles, she said.

"A lot of it was crossing over into each other's things," Jones said. "Both of those positions reporting to the board of directors, it just made things very difficult."

The Elgin City Council approved May 28 a one-year, $135,000 purchase of service agreement for the DNA to continue providing economic development services for the city. The DNA will meet the terms of the agreement even without Obenauf, whose annual salary was $45,000, Jones said.

"The PSA items remain the same," she said. "We are very dedicated to working together with the city and making sure those deliverables are handled appropriately."

Mayor David Kaptain said he only found out recently that Obenauf was laid off. He has since spoken with White, who assured him the DNA will abide by the PSA, he said.

"It's totally up to them about the personnel," he said. "The city of Elgin shouldn't have any influence on who they hire."

White said she supports the board's decision, and is planning to hire a full-time staff member whose focus will be on promotions.

Before Obenauf was laid off, White said, she was in charge of promotions and marketing, but also worked on economic development as per the DNA's mission.

"Now we have switched around to a more traditional role of that (National) Main Street (Center) community."

The DNA was accredited last year by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The organization's four-point approach includes organization, promotion, design and economic development.

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