City Engineer to replace retired City Manager of Industry – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Troy Helling, Cité de l’Industrie’s top administrator for three years, will retire in August after a two-month transition period alongside his replacement.
The industry city council unanimously selected city engineer Josh Nelson, a long-time employee of the city’s largest contractor, as the new city manager on the same day Helling announced his intention to leave. In an interview, Helling said he initially planned to retire before becoming city manager in 2018 and expected to only stay in that role for about a year.
“I kind of got sucked into the job and all that that entails, the fun stuff and the tough stuff,” he said. “It’s been 18 years at the Cité de l’Industrie, I tell you.
Helling joined the industry in 2003 from Signal Hill. He has spent most of his career in the business-friendly city planning department. His promotion to city manager followed a particularly chaotic period for the industry, during which the city council fired its city manager, city secretary and reform comptroller following a failed solar project and potentially fraudulent. Since then, the Helling administration has engaged in an all-out legal battle with the project’s developers in an attempt to recoup an alleged $ 20 million investment that those responsible for the investment were allegedly hijacked.
A separate criminal investigation by the district attorney’s office is underway.
Although the cases have not been resolved, Helling said he believed the city was in a position of strength and his exit would cause no setback.
“I’m the football coach who brought the team to where they are now, and next year Josh will take them to the Super Bowl,” he said. “There is a good team in place and good management.
Helling spent the last year building what he called his “retirement home” on 5 acres of land he bought out of state and was opened with advice about his. intentions to retire. The 52-year-old, who lost his sister to coronavirus in January, said he may decide to consult later, but his plan at this point is to live his life in memory of his sister and “Enjoy the desert for a little while first.
The replacement knows the city well
Nelson, the incoming city manager, is an insider with a long history with the city. He previously worked for one of the oldest contractors in the industry, CNC Engineering, a construction and engineering company that brings in millions each year through its close relationship with City Hall.
CNC owner Clem Cavillo also owns CNC Equestrian, a company that also employs Industry Mayor Cory Moss. CNC Equestrian runs the Industry Expo Center, the city-owned convention hall, at a loss each year. The facility is expected to have a deficit of $ 1 million in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, according to the city’s budget.
Nelson started as an intern on CNC’s engineering side in 1999 and worked his way up to regional vice president, according to a press release. He frequently reported on CNC projects to City Council.
Originally, Nelson worked as a city engineer under contract through the CNC, but city council decided to bring the position back in-house and officially hired him as the director of public works and city engineer in 2019.
His new duties included supervising the city’s contractors, among other responsibilities.
Nelson said Industry’s business-friendly attitude and his early morning board meetings appealed to him, allowing him to work on a variety of challenging projects without having to give up evenings with his four children.
He wants to make the industry more attractive to companies that may be considering leaving California, he said. The city is working on a “Made in Industry” campaign to promote its manufacturers and factories, which produce everything from computer components to pharmaceuticals and branded snacks. The industry sees tens of thousands of workers every day, although its own residential population is less than 250.
“We want to make sure that we continue to attract businesses and make it a place they want to stay,” he said.
At the same time, he plans to focus on finding a use for several open spaces purchased by the city, including Tonner Canyon near Brea and Follows Camp in Angeles National Forest. It also includes working with the Tres Hermanos Conservation Authority, jointly operated by Diamond Bar, Chino Hills and Industry, to consider alternative options for the 2,500-acre ranch that has almost become a solar farm. There is an interest from all parties in doing more than just sitting on the property, Nelson said.
“My focus is on helping the industry shine,” Nelson said.