Economic development director search begins

New position will serve as lead for C-W Economic Development Association

Representatives from the cities of Camas and Washougal and the Port of Camas-Washougal will discuss the joint east Clark County economic development association at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, Jan. 20, at 11:30 a.m., at Camas Meadows Golf Club, 4105 Camas Meadows Drive, Camas.

To RSVP, call 834-2472.

Representatives from the cities of Camas and Washougal and the Port of Camas-Washougal will discuss the joint east Clark County economic development association at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, Jan. 20, at 11:30 a.m., at Camas Meadows Golf Club, 4105 Camas Meadows Drive, Camas.

To RSVP, call 834-2472.

In January 2010, officials from the cities of Camas and Washougal, and the Port of Camas-Washougal, came together during a public forum to discuss how the entities might work together to create economic development opportunities that would benefit the greater community.

Today, nearly one year later, progress is being made with that goal in mind as the finishing touches are put on a draft “request for professional services” document. It is among the initial steps in the hiring process for an economic development director who will lead a proposed Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association.

“I think this entire process has been deliberate,” Washougal Mayor Sean Guard said Monday. “It has been focused on getting to a goal.”

The association will have a strictly local focus, aimed at expanding existing businesses and bringing new businesses and jobs to the east Clark County area. It will exist independently, have a board of directors, and be governed by all three entities — with the Port serving as the lead jurisdiction.

A draft inter-local agreement between the three agencies is currently being written, and is expected to be presented to councils and the commission before the end of February, said Port Executive Director David Ripp.

As part of the 2011 budgets, the Port has earmarked $100,000 toward the effort, while Camas and Washougal are set to contribute $50,000 each.

According to the professional services request, the Economic Development Association’s first year budget is expected to be approximately $175,000.

Since the fall, a core working group of representatives from each jurisdiction has been meeting regularly. In attendance at yesterday’s gathering were from the Port, Ripp and Commissioner Mark Lampton; from the city of Washougal Guard, City Administrator David Scott, Councilman Paul Greenlee; and Community Development Director Joanne Boys; from the city of Camas, City Administrator Lloyd Halverson and Community Development Director Phil Bourquin; and Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brent Erickson.

Once the request for professional services is finalized, it will be distributed through a number of different channels that could include websites of the cities and port, Craigslist and LinkedIn, as well as national and international economic development and business associations.

“I think the more people who know about it the better,” Guard said. “Again, it’s just about getting the word out.”

Proposals from interested individuals and consulting firms will be accepted Jan. 18 through 5 p.m. Feb. 28.

Scott said he expects a strong response.

“I think we’ll be surprised,” he said. “I think we are going to be challenged to narrow the field. I’m hopeful.”

The top three to five applicants will be selected by Halverson, Scott and Ripp, based on criteria that will be established by the group to filter and evaluate qualifications. Panel interviews will then be conducted in mid- to late-March. The Port Commissioners will confirm the appointment of the top candidate.

According to the request for professional services, “the primary objective of the economic development director is to assist the partners in establishing the CWEDA and to develop and implement an economic development plan to promote the economic vitality of the Camas/Washougal area.

“The emphasis will be on business retention and recruitment for our industrial districts and commercial areas, downtown and the general promotion of economic development and activity,” the document continues.

Lampton is optimistic about what the CWEDA could accomplish.

“I think our efforts will be recognized and I think they will pay off,” he said. “Our timing is really good on rolling this out. We have a great opportunity in front of us.”

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