DANVILLE – The Central Illinois Land Bank Authority board of directors approved hiring a full-time executive director.

The board at its Thursday meeting approved Michael Davis as director. Davis was chosen from about 10 candidates who were narrowed down for interviews.

Davis has been living in Champaign for the past couple months after following his wife who took a faculty position at the University of Illinois, according to board chairman Wes Bieritz.

Davis previously worked as a senior program officer for several years for the non-profit organization called Local Initiatives Support Corp. in Boston. The organization is involved with affordable housing and economic opportunities.

“He’s also worked for some land developers,” Bieritz said.

“He was probably easily the best candidate we had among four or five that we interviewed. He has a lot of experience with housing …,”Bieritz said.

Bieritz said in addition to Davis’ resume, Davis also was very professional, knew local representatives and organizations, state offices and attended a convention to learn more about the Midwest and land banking.

“He was thorough in his preparation,” Bieritz said, adding that others Davis has worked with also thought highly of him.

Outgoing part-time director Pat O’Shaughnessy also thinks Davis will be a good fit.

“He is going to take (the land bank) to the next level,” O’Shaughnessy said. “He’s extremely qualified to take a one-county land bank to a multi-county regional land bank.”

O’Shaughnessy said Davis had been looking for a job like this since moving to the area.

“The land bank is just fortunate to get him,” he said.

Davis’ salary was set at $85,000. Grant funds can’t be used 100 percent for the salary, O’Shaughnessy said, adding that they also have some other funding. Davis also will have to find funds to pay and build his staff.

O’Shaughnessy said Davis is a wonderful grant writer, and he expects Davis to oversee many good projects.

Davis starts Monday and Bieritz said he’s set up meetings for Davis to meet local representatives and get acquainted with what’s going on.

“He’s a collaborator and wants to get people involved,” Bieritz said. “He’s good in that avenue.”

O’Shaughnessy said Davis wants to collaborate with neighborhood and church groups, municipalities and others.

Davis will have a wider geographical area to oversee.

Champaign County became the latest new member the board approved. It joins Vermilion County, Rantoul and St. Joseph. The City of Decatur is pending, and other counties also have expressed interest in joining the regional land bank.

“That will be up to (Davis) and the board as to how fast to grow,” O’Shaughnessy said, adding that they don’t want to grow too fast to offer services.

The land bank applied for another Illinois Housing Development Authority grant this fall that will spearhead more growth, O’Shaughnessy said.

“We’re all united in blight,” he said about the need for redevelopment and demolitions in a lot of counties and communities.

Land banks are public or community-owned entities created to assist with community revitalization projects.

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