Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Colleen McAleer during Tuesday’s meeting in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Colleen McAleer during Tuesday’s meeting in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port of Port Angeles commissioner to head EDC

Colleen McAleer starts work for the nonprofit Thursday

PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Economic Development Corp. is turning to a familiar face for its next executive director.

Colleen McAleer, the Sequim-area District 1 Port of Port Angeles commissioner, accepted the EDC’s offer of the director position Monday, EDC board Chair Kelly Fox and McAleer said Tuesday.

“I’m really excited about it,” McAleer said.

“I’ve got an understanding of how to help rural communities thrive and businesses thrive locally, so I’m excited about putting my skills to work.

“It will offer a partnership for the EDC and the port to work together, not in a competitive nature but a supportive role for one another.”

McAleer begins working for the nonprofit Thursday at a salary that was not disclosed Tuesday because the payment package is being finalized, McAleer and Fox said.

Fox said the salary range is between $80,000 and $100,000.

McAleer was chosen from six finalists, all from Clallam County, whose names Fox would not disclose.

McAleer stood out “as someone who understood the Economic Development Council, understood our mission and was really well connected to the community, and that made a huge difference,” Fox said.

“It’s no secret the EDC has budget concerns, and she has a better grasp on how to solve those budget challenges.”

The EDC is trying to reduce public funding from 75 percent of the budget, about $190,000 in 2019, to 50 percent of the budget, by generating more membership, Fox told Peninsula Daily News on Feb. 1.

At their regular meeting Thursday, McAleer, Commissioner Steven Burke Burke and port board President Connie Beauvais reviewed a $30,000 contract for 2019 for EDC services, $10,000 less than the requested amount.

They provided Executive Director Karen Goschen with “consensus to move forward with the contract” as the recommended action in the agenda, McAleer and Beauvais said after the meeting.

The port funded the EDC with $25,000 from 2006-14, and $85,000 from 2015-18.

Other public funding for the EDC for 2019 includes $60,000 from Clallam County, $15,000 each from Olympic Medical Center and the city of Sequim, $5,000 from Team Jefferson EDC and $51,000 from the state Department of Commerce.

Commissioners, including McAleer, have approved the appropriations as part of the annual budget process, Executive Director Karen Goschen said.

McAleer said as EDC director she will recuse herself from funding issues and other agenda items involving the EDC.

According to the Municipal Research and Services Center, a local-government-research nonprofit, there is no conflict of interest if elected officials are solely employees — not owners or shareholders — of companies on which they make decisions as elected officials.

Burke is on the EDC board and executive committee as a representative of William Shore Memorial Pool, where he is the executive director.

He said Tuesday he did not participate in hiring McAleer and plans to resign from the board and executive committee.

Burke has participated in decisions about the EDC that have come before the port commissioners.

Three EDC executive directors have come and gone in five years.

Between March 2014 and January, the EDC has been run by Bill Greenwood and Bob Schroeter, and by interim director Julie Knott, who stepped down in January.

McAleer is a consultant for a company that works with distressed businesses.

She would not identify the company because of a nondisclosure agreement and the impact it would have on the company’s work in Clallam County, she said.

McAleer was first elected port commissioner in 2013 and re-elected in 2017.

A former real estate agent and broker, she and her family moved to Sequim in 2002.

She was president of the Washington Business Alliance from September 2015 to February 2018.

She was laid off as senior director of programs and administration at Airborne Environmental Control Systems, a port tenant, in July 2018, four months after she was hired.

McAleer was a finalist in August 2018 for the Clallam County administrator position vacated by Jim Jones that county commissioners have yet to fill.

McAleer worked for the port beginning in 2011 and was its marketing and property manager and director of business development.

She is “leaning toward” running for a third term in 2021, she said.

In the contract reviewed Tuesday, the EDC is described as a nonprofit educational and research corporation.

It helps existing and prospective businesses with tax incentives and low-cost loans, according to its website at www.clallam.org.

Under the agreement, the EDC will carry out an action plan for 2018-21.

It includes providing direct support to five employers annually for workforce development assistance in partnership with Peninsula College and other agencies and organizations, and supporting “the permitting and building of two hundred (200) new front doors in Clallam County,” according to the agreement and port staff report on Pages 68-77 at tinyurl.com/PDN-EDCpact.

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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.

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