With an eye towards recovery and supporting local businesses bruised by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mountain View city officials announced last week the hiring of John Lang as the city's new economic vitality manager.
Lang, who currently serves a similar role in Morgan Hill, starts the new job on May 17. He effectively replaces Economic Development Director Alex Andrade, who quit at the end of 2018, and will be responsible for stoking business growth at a time when closures and heavy losses are the norm.
Lang's starting salary is $170,691, a significant increase from Andrade's 2018 salary of $139,804, according to the website Transparent California.
City Manager Kimbra McCarthy said in a statement that Lang "lives and breathes" economic development with more than 20 years of experience in the field, and that he's well-prepared to tackle the city's ambitious plans even during high unemployment, contracting sales and a lower appetite for job growth.
"John has proven that he can successfully lead innovative projects and collaborate with businesses on solutions, especially during economic downturns," McCarthy said.
Along with supporting businesses seeking to establish a foothold or grow in Mountain View, Lang will head the city's downtown parking district and play a key role for the city's Downtown Committee and Visual Arts Commission. He is also responsible for rolling out the city's "Small Business Action Plan," a blueprint for saving smaller businesses wracked by COVID-19 and the public health restrictions that followed.
Lang's career has largely revolved around economic development to the south, focused in San Jose and Morgan Hill. He helped roll out San Jose's Innovation Hub -- or iHub -- as part of a statewide program to attract tech startups and entrepreneurs. More regionally, he chaired an initiative by Joint Venture Silicon Valley called the Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance, which describes itself as a concierge for helping businesses around the world plant roots in the area.
Lang has also taught classes as an economics lecturer at San Jose State University for 14 years, where he graduated with a master's degree in economics and public administration.
Despite the differing names, Lang's role as the economic vitality manager closely mirrors that of the city's previous job economic development manager. City officials say they switched up the job title to better encompass the pandemic recovery, which significantly altered the business landscape in Mountain View.
"The job title was changed to reflect a strong focus on the vitality of our community ... and the economy, particularly in a post-COVID Mountain View," said Lenka Wright, the city's public information officer.
Lang could not be reached for comment.