Interview with Community & Economic Development Director Amanda Bearcroft

Amanda Bearcroft has been the talk of Amsterdam City Hall since she took the position of community and economic development director in October 2018. During a recent interview, she talked about her background and the multitude of tasks she has to balance at her new job.

Bearcroft was born in Amsterdam and attended Amsterdam High School. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in architecture at the University of Buffalo in 2008 with a minor in urban planning. Later on, she earned her second master’s degree in city and regional planning at Ohio State University. While there, she interned at the City of Dublin’s planning department.

She originally worked in a few private firms for engineering and grant writing.

“I had a great boss in my last private job. It was beneficial to helping polish up how I work,” said Bearcroft.

Eventually she moved to the public sector where she hoped her efforts would be better utilized, as she observed that private organizations were less likely to receive grant funding due to the amount of competition.

Her last position was a senior planner at Montgomery County.

“I loved being able to work for all 21 municipalities within the county,” she recalled. “Having that many places to help – all with different strengths and weaknesses – meant that you really had to work closely with local officials, boards, and residents to make sure you were achieving their goals.”

As for her current position, she couldn’t put her finger on a fit-all job description. However, she said it boils down to wearing countless different hats.

“You’re an economic specialist. You’re a grant writer. You’re a community member and you’re really trying to wear these hats all in mind of ‘how can I make this community better?’ ‘What can I do to best help the state of Amsterdam?’…I mean it’s really just all-encompassing which kind of can be confusing sometimes to look at specific things, but it all fits together creating a better city.”

Bearcroft said her job requires having a conceptual vision for the city’s development, as well as working on the practical aspects of creating a framework for and overseeing the development. She said there’s no such thing as a typical work-week either, juggling so many projects at once. Identifying property, making connections with private developers, looking at housing projects in the city, and conversing with the New York State Canal Corporation to attract tourism were only a few examples of her tasks.

“City-planning is so broad. I’m working on everything at all times,” she added.

Asked about her most recent projects, she said her list includes a bike share initiative, business relocations, partnering with investors, and working on implementing the recently awarded Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.

Like a gardener, she’s checking daily on the city’s growth and height in quality of life.

Bearcroft said, “By becoming a community that’s full of investment opportunities, we’re no longer a ‘bedroom community.’ People want to have all of their opportunities to live, work and play year-round here in their community.”

Speaking not just as the economic director, but as a concerned local, she added, “I want to use my knowledge to help out my hometown.”

Lauren Montera

Lauren Montera recently graduated with a cum laude bachelor's degree in
communications and has done volunteer work for youth and medical research
in the capital-region area. Her hobbies include martial arts, food blogging and
swing dance.