Hoping to continue the development momentum in the heart of St. Paul, elected officials and business leaders launched a new organization focused on downtown.

The nonprofit St. Paul Downtown Alliance will recruit employers, attract investments and create "a positive experience for visitors, residents and workers alike," according to a news release Wednesday announcing the organization's launch.

Mayor Melvin Carter and Chris Hilger, Securian Financial Group chairman and CEO, will co-chair the Downtown Alliance board.

"We've talked a lot about what it's going take to re-imagine and build a city that works for all of us, and we know that something that's very critical toward that end is having a thriving, vibrant and healthy downtown scene," Carter said. "Having a clear vision for the strength and vitality of downtown benefits all of our neighborhoods throughout the city, and our region as well."

The organization's budget in its first year will be $460,000, according to a spokeswoman. A number of companies and organizations are contributing funding, including Ecolab, the Minnesota Wild, HealthPartners, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the St. Paul Saints. The city of St. Paul is kicking in $15,000.

Many American cities have downtown-focused booster groups. In Minneapolis, the Downtown Council has operated for 60 years.

The St. Paul Riverfront Corporation spearheaded a year of planning that led to creating the Downtown Alliance, with input from government agencies, businesses and residents.

Executive search firm Ballinger Leafblad is seeking someone to lead the organization. According to a job description, the president will "build a lean team" to accomplish the organization's goals. The position will be paid "an executive salary" with "comprehensive benefits," according to the job description.

The Alliance's 16-member board, which will meet quarterly, includes Council Member Rebecca Noecker, Metropolitan Council Chairwoman Alene Tchourumoff, Ramsey County Board Chairman Jim McDonough and the presidents and CEOs of Ecolab, the Ordway, the Wild and HealthPartners.

"The voices on this board are meant to be very inclusive and representative of a number of different constituencies that are important to the success of downtown St. Paul," Hilger said.