PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Economic Development Corp., a countywide nonprofit business group, is an organization in search of itself but on its way to finding that path that begins with hiring a new executive director, a joint meeting of Port of Port Angeles and Clallam County commissioners was told this week.
“We want to get rid of the moving target,” Kelly Fox, interim executive director and EDC board chair, said at the meeting Monday.
The update on the EDC’s activities by Fox was held in the port meeting room before port district commissioners Connie Beauvais, Colleen McAleer and Steven Burke; the EDC board secretary; and county Commissioners Mark Ozias and Bill Peach. Randy Johnson had an excused absence.
“It’s no secret we’ve been through a lot of executive directors in the last couple of years,” Fox told the joint meeting. “We need to end that.”
Fox, CEO of Lumber Traders, the parent company of employee-owned Angeles Millwork & Lumber Company and Hartnagel Building Supply in Port Angeles, said the EDC has hired Archbright, a Seattle business management consulting firm, to set a template for the new director’s role.
The company will create “an appropriate job description for the type of work we want to be doing, including the [Emerald Coast] Opportunity Zone and everything else going on,” Fox said Thursday.
“We want someone to oversee all those projects and answer to our public partners and our membership base.”
The board will approve a 2019 work plan at a 10:30 a.m. March 8 meeting of the private, nonprofit organization in the second-floor meeting room of the Lincoln Center, 905 W. Ninth St., Port Angeles.
The board meetings are public, Fox said.
Fox did not have the amount of Archbright’s contract Thursday, adding that he hopes the firm will complete its work by the EDC board’s March 8 meeting and that the organization has a new executive director on board by the beginning of June.
The search will begin locally and if necessary branch out from there, Fox said.
The applicants will be reviewed by an EDC executive search committee comprising Fox and board members Michael McQuay, owner of Kokopelli Grill & Coyote BBQ Pub in Port Angeles; Carolyn St. James, planner and grant writer for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum.
Interim Executive Director Julie Knott stepped back Jan. 18 from the temporary role to head the EDC’s coordination of the budding Emerald Coast Opportunity Zone investment program, which Fox predicted will continue getting off the ground with the end of the partial federal shutdown.
Knott’s departure “started with a job performance of Julie and morphed into what her new role is,” Fox said.
Bob Schroeter resigned in March 2018 after 10 months on the job, citing a budget that could not sustain his $105,000-a-year salary and the wages of two other staff members.
Schroeter succeeded Bill Greenwood, EDC director from March 2014 to Dec. 31, 2016.
Greenwood resigned in what Johnson, then the EDC board chairman, told Peninsula Daily News at the time was the result of “mutual discussions” between Greenwood and the board.
Fox said Thursday he expects the new executive director’s salary to be “close” to Schroeter’s.
The EDC budget, $180,000-$200,000 for 2019, will pay for three full-time positions once a new director is hired.
Public funding accounts for 75 percent of the budget.
“Our long-range goal is for membership to fund 50 percent of the EDC,” Fox said.
The work plan should be completed by March 8, before the EDC asks for public funds for 2019, he said.
Fox said Thursday that the EDC will seek public funding after a work plan is approved and before hiring a new executive director.
“We want to make sure we have in place a good framework and a good plan of how we will be good stewards going forward,” he said.
Ozias said Thursday that the EDC has made “substantial progress” in some areas over the last couple of years.
“I think they are still trying to find what is their value proposition and a sustainable business model,” he said.
Ozias described the EDC’s value proposition as “what is the unique and indispensable economic development service that is at the heart of what they should be focusing on.”
He noted the variety of organizations that work on different aspects of economic development.
“What are the right aspects for the EDC?” Ozias said.
“What’s the right role in the greater system and in partnership with other economic development organizations?”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Economic Development Corp. board of directors.