The Erie Street Market Development Corp., in its first official move since taking over full control of the public market, has hired Candace Baldwin as the market manager.
Ms. Baldwin, an economic development specialist with the Northriver Development Corp., will assume her duties May 21.
The city turned over reins of the market to the development corporation and its board on Tuesday. Ms. Baldwin will replace market manager Julie Champa, who was considered a city department head.
Jack Jolley, president of the market board, said Ms. Baldwin was chosen because of her experience with Northriver, particularly in the areas of writing grant applications, community outreach, and working with local governments.
Board members introduced Ms. Baldwin to market merchants yesterday.
Ms. Baldwin, 29, of Toledo, said she is looking forward to the job because it presents a chance for her to use the skills she has learned and a new opportunity. She said the market is confronting many challenges, but she believes the biggest “is making sure the merchants' needs and the customers' needs all mesh, and it is a success and an enjoyable shopping experience for everyone.”
Ms. Baldwin said her favorite aspect of the market is that the vendors are specialized, and the place is not “overcommercialized.”
“The owner is right there, and there is that personal touch with the owners actually operating their businesses,” she said.
Ms. Baldwin said her first order of business would be to “read everything I can.” But she said her priority will be “to meet with the merchants and understand what their concerns are going to be and are, bring some sense of consistency to the operation, and also start working on getting more merchants in there to fill Bay 3 to capacity.”
The market board is in the process of converting the large empty bay at the market into a space for nonfood vendors, to separate them from the fresh food market.
When asked whether Ms. Champa will continue to serve some function in his administration, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner released a statement in which he was inconclusive about her future with the city.
“Julie Champa has done an excellent job as manager of the Erie Street Market. Over the past 18 months, she has brought professionalism, stability, and growth to the market. I hope her successor will continue to meet the standards she has set,” he said in the statement.
He blasted the board for not keeping Ms. Champa.
“It is a shame that Julie apparently got caught up in a political maneuver by certain board members interested in cleaning house. With Julie Champa's talents and skills, I'm sure she will be much sought after by professionals in the Toledo area, including the city of Toledo,” the mayor stated.
City Councilman Pete Gerken, who is a member of the market board, said Ms. Baldwin was hired after a six-month search in which four candidates, including Ms. Champa, were interviewed.
Ms. Baldwin and Ms. Champa were the two finalists for the job, he said.
“It was a very difficult decision and [Ms. Baldwin] was the best of the four,” Mr. Gerken said. “We felt Candace brought a set of skills that can take us to another level.”
Ms. Baldwin will be paid $50,000; Ms. Champa's city salary was $65,000, he said. Mr. Jolley and Mr. Gerken expressed the board's gratefulness for Ms. Champa's work over the past year and a half.
Ms. Baldwin, who has lived in Toledo seven years, ended up in the city when her father, Grover Baldwin, came here to teach at the University of Toledo. He left UT two years ago.