WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt announced his retirement Monday.

For 22 years, he’s helped guide Kent County’s second-largest city under four mayors and countless city council members.

Holt said the key to his success — or survival, depending on your point of view — has been communication.

“Making sure the council understands what’s going on. They understand what’s coming their way, whether it’s a week from now, a month from now, or a year from now,” Holt said.

There were always challenges. Some came all at once.

That was the case in 2009, when the city’s largest employer at the time, General Motors, closed down its stamping plant, eliminating jobs and leaving 74 acres along 36th Street empty.

That same year, Studio 28th on 28th Street, the nation’s first suburban multiplex theater, closed, leaving another large property vacant.

Today, there’s new life either planted or planned for both sites. A developer plans to bring manufacturing back to the stamping plant property. 

Apartments have already gone up at the old Studio 28th site with hopes residents of those apartments will support revitalization along the 28th Street retail corridor.

“We’ve got some great momentum going here. And I think in the next five years, you’re going to see change,” Holt said. 

His accomplishments go well beyond the Wyoming city limits.

Holt played a major role in making sure Kent County residents get the help they need when they call 911. Before 2007, when you called for a crime, medical emergency or fire in Kent County, one of eight dispatch centers would pick up the call.

“What we noticed at the time, there was great disfunction in call taking,” Holt said.

He and others knew there was a better way of getting help to where it was needed.

Holt was instrumental in the formation of Kent County’s Dispatch Authority, which paved the way to reducing those eight dispatch centers to two, saving money and, most importantly, time.

“A person sees emergency service faster than they ever have in Kent County,” Holt said.

It’s one of the many accomplishments Holt said he is proud of as he wraps up his city hall career.

There are also the more mundane aspects of keeping a city of 76,000 residents running: From keeping the pension funds funded to eliminating lead water pipes.

“We haven’t done maybe the more sexy stuff. But we take care of the city of Wyoming every day,” Holt said.

That includes hiring for the future.

“We hire for character. We don’t hire for skills. And I think our people here have great character,” he said.

He says the city’s effort to recruit the best and brightest is now paying off.

The 59-year-old is ready to hand the keys to city hall over to the next generation of leaders. When he retires he’ll spend more time with his wife and adult children, including a daughter who lives in Utah and is expecting his first grandchild.

“I want to be able to go on hikes in Utah with my daughter and future grandchild,” Holt said.

His last day on the job is set for Feb. 16.