SEQUIM — The Sequim City Council has chosen to re-up with the Clallam County Economic Development Corp. through 2018, after a two-year gap of not contracting services with the group.
Council members unanimously agreed Oct. 9 to a one-year contract worth $2,500 for the fourth quarter of 2017 and $10,000 for 2018 that requires several things of the EDC and its executive director and CEO, Bob Schroeter. Councilman John Miller was excused from the vote and Councilman Bob Lake abstained due to working on a personal project with the EDC.
In the contract’s scope of work, it requires the private nonprofit to:
• Enhance business retention opportunities with an average of four business retention and expansion visits a month.
• Visit one nonprofit organization monthly.
• Sponsor five training sessions or events annually related to economic development, economic wellness and/or nonprofit organizational wellness that are accessible to businesses and nonprofits.
Schroeter also agreed to a quarterly report to the city council about:
• Efforts attracting businesses to Sequim and the area.
• Efforts to focus the local workforce through education.
• Projects, efforts and/or initiatives on the legislative agenda related to economic development in the city.
City council members hold a 30-day termination clause with the EDC on the contract, too.
City Manager Charlie Bush said at the Sept. 25 council meeting he sees the contract as a cost-effective way to provide economic development to city residents.
“We’ll be able to track on those success stories and draw metrics from the data,” he said.
“I’m confident we’re going to be getting our money’s worth over time.”
City staff report that the city supported the EDC with an annual $18,000 contract from 2004-09 and then an annual $5,000 contract from 2010-15 before ceasing contract agreements in 2016 and 2017.
This new contract allows city council members the option to review the contract annually in October 2019 and October 2020.
Council members were hesitant to go beyond 2018 without seeing some results first. City staff proposed budgeting a $15,000 contract with the EDC in 2019 and $20,000 in 2020.
Bush, who was on the selection process to hire Schroeter, said at the Sept. 11 meeting that in his experience working in other cities, the Clallam EDC has to seek an annual contract whereas other EDCs in the state have multi-year contracts.
“It gives them more predictability and allows them to focus more on services than fundraising year after year,” he said.
In previous years in Sequim, city council members expressed concern over results the EDC was providing for the Sequim area. The agency had seen some turnover in recent years, including Bill Greenwood, the former executive director, stepping down at the end of 2016 after nearly two years.
Bush said Sept. 11 that “our relationship with EDC has tremendously improved over the last year.”
However, Mayor Dennis Smith said he was more comfortable with a one-year contract.
“I’ve got some bad taste in my mouth from spending money with the EDC many years ago,” he said.
“We got nothing, and that’s why we backed off to nothing.”
Councilwoman Pam Leonard-Ray didn’t want to jump into an agreement without any real history either.
“I like the multi-year approach, but not the amount of increases,” she said. “The metrics proposed are not what I’m used to seeing in the world of nonprofits.”
Both Councilwomen Candace Pratt and Genaveve Starr said they were happy with the direction the EDC is going.
“I see this as a healthy program, even if we don’t get all the deliverables,” Pratt said.
“We want to see real jobs and real things happening for our population. That’s where our hearts are.”
Schroeter is one of three employees with the EDC, he said, and in years past, there’s been many more.
Smith asked him at the Sept. 25 council meeting how three people “can provide the same level of service to so many agencies and stay alive and standing.”
“We wouldn’t have put deliverables in this contract … that we couldn’t meet comfortably,” Schroeter said. “If we don’t deliver, I’m confident your city manager and council will use the 30-day termination.”
Deputy Mayor Ted Miller said at the same meeting that “if any deliverables come to fruition, it’ll be a bargain for the city of Sequim.”
“The question is whether deliverables will be met,” he said.
For more information on the Clallam County Economic Development Corp., visit clallam.org.
For more on the contract between the city and EDC, call 360-683-3311 or visit sequimwa.gov.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Economic Development Corp. board of directors.