By Alyssa Schnugg
In 2013, the city of Oxford briefly considered closing the Oxford Conference Center when it wasn’t making enough money to cover expenses. However, then-director Hollis Green asked the city to give him some time and within two years, the center was bringing in more than a million dollars and has continued to succeed.
Now Green is being asked to use his management skills to help better manage the city’s process when it comes to building and development in Oxford.
Two weeks ago, Green was made the city’s director of Development Services – a new position created recently by Mayor Robyn Tannehill and Oxford Board of Aldermen to bring the city’s engineering, planning and building departments together under one umbrella to help speed up the process for developers building in Oxford.
“Hollis in an incredible manager of people and of processes,” Tannehill said recently of Green.
Tannehill said she modeled the position after Tupelo that has a Development Services Department, encompassing the same three departments.
“We’ve analyzed over the last 18 months how we can better manage the growth that Oxford is seeing in our departments and how we deal with developers, and we’re trying to figure out ways to make that process go more smoothly and be more efficient and effective,” Tannehill said.
Green has been with the city since 2009. He moved from his office at the Conference Center to his new office in City Hall two weeks ago.
“I’ve been primarily meeting with all the current employees of each department and I’ve been listening,” he said. “I’ve encouraged them to come in and sit with me and give me their comments, concerns, where they think we’re headed and any advice that they would have for me. It’s been productive.”
Green said he and the department heads of the building, engineering and planning departments will be looking at the city’s process to have building projects approved and see if there are ways to improve and speed up that process.
“We want it so when someone submits a plan, we can cut down on the time it takes from submission to the time you can get started building,” Green said.
Tannehill said she hopes for that process to one day work like one is tracking a FedEx package.
“So developers can say, ‘OK, what department is my project in now?’ ‘What are the comments so far?’” she said. “Hollis will be developing that process. He doesn’t need to be an engineer, planner or building inspector – we have people who are experts in those trades. We need someone who can coordinate that process.”
Taking over for Green at the Conference Center is Hayden Guest. Hayden has served as sales director for the Conference Center for the past 10 years. Micah Quinn will continue to serve as events manager.
Green says he has no doubts he left the Conference Center in good hands.
“These are two very strong, qualified women and they are ready for the challenge of running the conference center,” Green said.