March 30, 2022
The City of South Bend announced today that Executive Director of Community Investment Santiago Garces will be leaving the City at the end of April to become the Chief Innovation Officer with the City of Boston, Massachusetts.
“Santi has brought innovative ideas and services to South Bend, first as Chief Innovation Officer and most recently as Executive Director of Community Investment,” said Mayor James Mueller. “We are grateful for his work serving the residents of South Bend and wish him the best of luck in his new and prominent role with the City of Boston.”
Under Garces, Community Investment supported South Bend’s economic recovery with creative programs for residents and small businesses, including Innovation Grants for 135 locally owned restaurants, a new revolving loan program for local businesses impacted by COVID supported by a $7.7 million competitive grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and rental and utility assistance in partnership with St. Vincent DePaul, REAL Services and Aids Ministries. The City celebrated new development with the opening of Trader Joe’s in the Northeast neighborhood and a new grocery underway on Western Avenue. South Bend continues to be an emerging leader in indoor farming with the proposed expansion of Pure Green Farms and related developments. The South Bend-Elkhart region is also positioned to take a giant step forward with more than $1.6 billion of projects and programs proposed for the state’s READI program.
The Department of Community Investment will continue to deploy historic levels of funding in the 2022 budget to install renewable energy and energy efficiency infrastructure, build affordable housing, repair homes in need, and demolish commercial blight across the city.
“Returning to South Bend to serve the City during these critical times has been a great honor,” said Garces. “We have worked hard to set forth transformative investments in housing and opportunity, building a great place to live. South Bend’s growth and momentum fill me with pride and hope for the future, and I look forward to following the City’s progress.”
Garces first joined the City in 2013 after earning undergraduate degrees in political science and electrical engineering, and a graduate degree from the ESTEEM program at the University of Notre Dame. Named as the South Bend’s first Chief Innovation Officer in 2014, Garces established the City’s Office of Innovation, and later the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology. Under his direction, the team expanded the capabilities of the 311 Service Center, saved South Bend millions of dollars through creative strategic planning, and gained national attention for its work in data-driven government and private-public partnerships. Garces created supportive relationships with local start-ups and led the charge toward digital inclusion by developing public WiFi and C.L.I.C.K. (Centers for Learning, Information, Connectivity, and Knowledge) spaces. Garces also co-founded the local non-profit enFocus.
Garces returned to the City in 2020 to become the Executive Director of Community Investment after nearly two years as the City of Pittsburgh’s Chief Innovation Officer.
The search to fill the leadership vacancy in Community Investment will begin soon. Effective May 2 the City’s current Deputy Director of Community Investment, Caleb Bauer, will serve as acting Executive Director of Community Investment.