Jerome Groomes, San Diego city airports manager, Friday was named director of the Southeast Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit group formed in 1980 to create more job opportunities in that economically depressed sector of the city.
Groomes replaces Steve Harding, who resigned in August to take a position with a Sacramento consulting firm. Groomes will start in the SEDC post Nov. 1 at an annual salary of $72,500, including fringe benefits.
The SEDC has come under fire from some members of the black community for failure to attract more businesses to Southeast San Diego, despite creation of two industrial-commercial parks--Gateway Center East and Gateway Center West--near the junction of California 94 and Interstate 15, a $35-million investment.
At a symbolic “crumbs and baloney” luncheon held in the SEDC parking lot Thursday, about 70 Southeast San Diego leaders protested the city agency’s poor track record in obtaining jobs for the minority community.
Herb Cawthorne, president of the San Diego Urban League, told the protest group that the business park contains few black entrepreneurs and no Hispanic businesses in the new facilities. Few jobs have been created and many of those have gone to workers outside the Southeast area, Cawthorne said.
Groomes has been manager of the city’s Montgomery Field and Brown Field airports since 1983 and previously served as assistant city manager in San Diego and as divisional administrator for planning in the office of housing and community development in Philadelphia.
John Thelan, SEDC board president, praised Groomes in announcing the appointment Friday.
“I believe Jerry has the leadership abilities, knowledge and sensitivity that will tremendously benefit SEDC immediately and in the future,” Thelan said.
He said Groomes was picked from about 200 applicants.