Barber enjoys challenge of wearing many hats

Filed under: One on One |

* Name: Frank O’Neill Barber

* Organization: El Paso County Office of Economic Development & Public Finance

* Position: Director

* Hometown: Various Army bases; Charleston, S.C., Chapel Hill, N.C., Northfield, Mass.

* How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 27 years

* Education: Bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

* A few words about your company: My office is staffed by two exceptional staff persons and myself. We are one of the smallest offices of El Paso County and perform a multitude of functions, from administering the county’s Housing Authority with its mortgage financing for first-time homebuyers (since 1979), to financing apartment complexes to funding non-profit housing providers for low income and homeless families. We administer the county’s financings for its facilities and also obtain federal and state grants and provide those funds to area businesses and non-profits. Last but not least, we administer the county’s Enterprise Zone Program which awards state tax credits to hundreds of county businesses and contributors every year.

* Recent accomplishments: Made $18 million available for mortgages for county first-time homebuyers with a grant for their down payment, for the 25th time since 1979; provided tax-exempt financing to construct three high-quality apartment complexes with requirements to keep rents affordable; hosted the spring conference of the Economic Developers Council of Colorado here in April, showing off our region’s best to the rest of the state.

* Biggest career break: Getting hired by the County Planning Department 25 years ago, then working my way up through the ranks, and finally having this office created to focus on affordable housing and economic development issues.

* The toughest part of your job: Actually, rather than tough, it’s challenging to wear the many hats I do at work, but that’s the part I enjoy most. No day is the same.

* Someone you admire: It’s a tie between Rocky Scott and James Taylor.

* About your family: Jacquie, my wife, is a manager, software engineering. We have five splendid young adults, four of whom are in college or grad school.

* Something else you’d like to accomplish: As an Irish musician, I’d love to put together a CD playing my favorite tunes with the best Celtic musicians in the world.

* How your business will change in the next decade: County government as a whole will continue to become customer-oriented and deserving of the citizen’s support. I believe we’ve got great elected officials and staff, and need the voter’s help to get the necessary jobs accomplished.

* What book are you currently reading? Except for the Business Journal, Gazette, Independent, the Post, Consumer Reports and Sears catalogues, listening to music takes the place of books for me.

* What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? Lessen the traffic congestion by timing the lights, improving mass transit, encouraging carpooling and cycling, and then by new roadway construction.