By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Board members of the Economic Development Council, or EDC, voted unanimously to instruct the EDC’s executive committee to develop a plan to explain the goal of the meetings to economic development stakeholders and how they can get involved, interim EDC Director Tim Smith said.
The communications plan will be developed after the executive committee finalizes the scope of the summit meetings, which are being planned by Peninsula College and Washington State University-Clallam County Extension.
The summit meetings have the goal of documenting how stakeholders are addressing economic development in Clallam County and considering how to create a regional strategy.
“Ultimately, it’s going to lead to making some regional economic development policies, and that would [inform] the discussion of how we can afford to get where it is we decide to get to in terms of future economic development efforts,” Smith said after the meeting.
Asked if he thought these regional meetings could lead to consolidation among Clallam County economic development groups, Smith said Thursday: “I can’t answer that question right now.”
Because of the planning needed, Clea Rome, WSU-Clallam County Extension director, estimated that the first summit meeting likely would not happen until the end of February.
Jim McEntire, Clallam County commissioner and EDC board member, said he would like to see the meeting planning process begin soon.
“I do agree this is a matter of considerable urgency,” McEntire said.
“We ought not to let those conversations languish and dribble, but it’s as important to get it right.”
Thursday’s decision comes on the heels of a proposal by Smith for a separate ad hoc committee comprising representatives of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Port Angeles Downtown Association, the Port Angeles Business Association and The CEO Group — an amalgam of city business owners and executives.
He had said it could lead to a possible merger of business organizations.
Committee members, which Smith said should meet for the first time during the last week of this month, would discuss where efficiencies could be gained in their economic development efforts.
“It’s kind of a mini-version of what hopefully comes together from the regional [summit meetings],” Smith said.
At the least, Smith said he hopes the committee meetings will allow the groups involved to present their Port Angeles-centered economic development plans collectively during the larger regional meetings.
“So it hopefully comes in a more comprehensive manner,” he said.
The EDC has about $25,000 allocated in its 2014 budget that could be spent on the summi meetings, though a portion of that is set aside for finding a permanent executive director, said Randy Johnson, EDC board treasurer and president of Green Crow Inc.
“This is not going to be a one-and-done thing,” Peninsula College President Luke Robins told EDC board members.
“I don’t think one meeting is going to get it.”
Robins has been gathering economic development planning documents and strategies from entities across Clallam County and plans to make them available to those who attend summit meetings.
“I think that whoever comes to a [summit] meeting needs to have done their homework,” Robins said, “so we don’t end up plowing the same field that has been plowed numerous times.”
Work before the meeting also probably will include developing surveys about economic development efforts that will be distributed to attendees, Rome said.
“In the early stages, we want to be as absolutely inclusive as possible,” she said.
Throughout the meeting process, Robins said it would be important to develop a way to keep the various stakeholders, such as city governments and other economic development groups, updated on the work being done.
“I think that’s critical,” he said.
EDC board members also named the following people as 2014 board executive officers at Thursday’s meeting:
■ President: Brian Kuh, with community development financial institution Craft3 and outgoing Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce president.
■ Vice President: Ken Hays, former Sequim mayor, Sequim city councilman and architect.
■ Second Vice President: Rod Fleck, Forks city attorney and planner.
■ Treasurer: Randy Johnson, president of Port Angeles-based forests products company Green Crow Inc.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at email@example.com.