By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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“I believe companies can start coming here quite soon,” Bill Greenwood, executive director of the Economic Development Council, or EDC, told City Council members Tuesday.
“We are determined to make it happen.”
Before the 7-0 vote, Councilman Dan Gase said the contract made him optimistic about the area’s economic future and EDC’s future.
The nonprofit organization experienced turmoil when interim EDC Director Tim Smith resigned in January after 28 days on the job.
Smith told the Peninsula Daily News in an interview he was having “a hard time getting clear direction from the board as a whole.”
Greenwood, an investment banker and Sequim resident, was hired to a $60,000-a-year, 30-hour-a-week contract as permanent executive director in March.
“We are heading down the right track,” Gase said.
“We have a lot of potential after a lot of tough years.”
Nathan West, city community and economic development director, said in a memo to the council that economic development contracts with the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Port Angeles Downtown Association and the EDC “must have measurable outcomes” and “must demonstrate efficiencies from working together.”
According to the EDC’s “Strategic Direction, 2014-2018” report, also presented Tuesday: “Discussion is ongoing with respect to organizational structure, linkages to other economic and workforce development organizations and a different scheme of financing the EDC organization.”
The downtown association has withdrawn from an effort by the Chamber of Commerce and business association to merge the three groups under the “PA United” umbrella to reduce redundant costs, an effort in which the EDC has not participated.
In an interview Thursday, Gase said measurable outcomes will “help the organization perform at a much better level.”
The EDC is funded by the cities of Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks; Olympic Medical Center; the Clallam County Public Utility District; the Port of Port Angeles; and “major and minor businesses,” Greenwood said.
West said the 2014 contract, which will be signed this week and expires Dec. 31, provides for quarterly payments, the first of which will be at the end of September.
Provisions of pact
Provisions of the agreement include the EDC identifying existing business and expansion potential and county strengths that are matched to the needs of targeted companies, as well as collecting comprehensive demographic data for use by the public and city staff.
“The council will also serve as general research and reference center for the officials and employees of the city,” according to the contract.
The EDC will report to the City Council and city staff on economic trends and serve “as a countywide contact for development activities.”
Said West on Thursday: “Those are the work products we are paying for.”
Potential businesses that can be recruited by the EDC include Foss Maritime Co., Greenwood said in his presentation to the council.
Foss is moving from its present site on the south side of the Lake Washington ship canal in Seattle.
Available sites in Port Angeles fit into Foss’ “game plan,” Greenwood said.
A Foss spokeswoman did not return a call for comment Thursday afternoon.
“The idea of economic development continues to be on the table for any kind of economic development that might benefit the community,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood said he is increasing the EDC staff from 1.4 employees to four.
According to the EDC’s 2014 work plan, business recruitment focuses on marine trades, advanced manufacturing, tourism business development and natural resources consisting of forestry and agriculture.
A strategic plan through 2018 will be prepared for the City Council by Dec. 31, Greenwood said.
According to the 2014-2018 report, forestry is the county’s most important industry, “but economic growth for the county needs to come significantly from other industries.”
In 2014, the top objective is to “take care of our own,” according to the report.
The EDC has conducted 40 of 60 planned “business retention visits” in which organization staff ask entrepreneurs about employee totals, opportunities for expansion, additional sources of support and the general state of the company, according to the work plan.
City staff is to receive a summary of those visits by Dec. 31.
In addition, at least 12 interviews will be conducted with CEOs from outside the North Olympic Peninsula during 2014, Greenwood said.
“Five outside companies who now have significant interest in moving to the county have been contacted since April,” according to the work plan.
The EDC’s goals include creating more than 500 new jobs and generating $75 million to $100 million in investment in new facilities between 2014 and 2018.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.