Occupation: Assistant director of economic development, Crystal Lake
Hometown: Appleton, Wis.
Family: Wife, Lesli Nelson Richter; Quinton, 3, and Lyla, 1
Education: Bachelor's degree, urban and regional studies, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh; master's of public administration, Northern Illinois University
Favorite McHenry County restaurant? Jameson’s Charhouse in Crystal Lake
Favorite movie? "Gladiator"
One word that describes you? Decorous
What is your job and what makes you so good at it?
I am the assistant director of economic development for the city of Crystal Lake and along with the Planning and Economic Development Department, our role is to aid in business attraction and retention. I am the city’s liaison to the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, and have had a position on the Board of Directors for many years. I’m truly fortunate to work with an amazing team of professionals here at City Hall and to serve the community. Together, we move Crystal Lake forward and continue to make it a good place to live and a great place to do business.
What accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of this year?
My role in business development in Crystal Lake is only a small part of the greater efforts of all of the city staff and City Council. Together, we have helped new and existing businesses occupy over 500,000 square feet of commercial space in Crystal Lake over the past year. The city continues to serve as a business advocate and respects the investments that are made by businesses to expand our local economy. I’m lucky to be a part of these great accomplishments of the city.
How do you give back to the community and what drives your service?
I am active with the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Community Harvest event each year and I’m driven by knowing that there is a need in this community for the services offered by the Crystal Lake Food Pantry – a need that can easily be overlooked. I am also a supporter of the March of Dimes. Both of my children were premature and therefore, I know and support the many great things that the March of Dimes does to help women have healthier pregnancies. It’s a cause that is near and dear to my heart (for obvious reasons).
What is something you have never done but want to do some day?
Play piano and harmonica with a good blues band.
What is the best career advice you have received?
I would say that my best career advice came from my father, who worked in local government for over 30 years. He taught me that what motivated him was his duty to serve and that by embracing that responsibility and a positive attitude, he has had boundless motivation. He also showed me that as public sector employees, we have a responsibility to make good decisions and to treat everyone fairly, with the professionalism they deserve.
“James brings amazing dedication to his work, putting in extra hours at many late night meetings, but always with a smile. What is even more amazing is that he is able to serve the city of Crystal Lake at such a high level, while keeping up with his other full-time job as the father of two young children,” said coworker Erik Morimoto, Crystal Lake’s director of engineering and building.