Prineville business position moving forward

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: April 02. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – Work is moving forward on hiring an economic development manager for Prineville and Crook County and fulfilling a longtime goal of local officials.

The economic development manager’s objective will be to bring new businesses to Prineville and help existing businesses expand.

Economic Development for Central Oregon, the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, county and city government, and local businesses are partnering to make the position a reality.

The Crook County Court and Prineville City Council have pledged $15,000 and $20,000, respectively, to the position in the first year. The Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce has raised $10,000 for the first year and $34,000 for the following three years from private businesses, according to a news release from EDCO. Les Schwab Tire Cos. also contributed $50,000.

EDCO and the chamber will begin taking applications and forming a hiring panel. The position could be filled by early May.

Ruth Lindley, marketing manager for EDCO, compared the new job to a similar one in Redmond that is a partnership between EDCO and Redmond Economic Development.

“We see Prineville in the same sort of position that Redmond was five to seven years ago, and the approach that we’ve used in Redmond, I think, has been very successful,” Lindley said. “Because he’s located in Redmond, he lives in Redmond, it’s a really successful formula. He understands the local market in a way that maybe you wouldn’t if you were in Bend.”

Specific economic development goals include job creation, increasing taxable capital investment, providing “substantive assistance” to companies, and completing specific projects to improve the area’s business environment, according to EDCO’s release.

Crook County Court Judge Scott Cooper said city and county representatives have been in talks with EDCO for about two years.

“We certainly are watching the growing population and realizing that it may take some more effort to bring attention to our area to bring desirable jobs here,” Cooper said. “We have a much broader mix of skills that can take those different types of jobs than we once did. We’re not just a manufacturing and mill town.”

The county also has pledged $13,000 and $11,000 for the second and third years of the economic development program, respectively, but can re-evaluate that, Cooper said. The success of Redmond’s position, in existence since January 2003, encouraged the county to take the step, he added.

“The person is supposed to be an ambassador from the business community and potential business prospects back to local government to help ensure a smooth operating process,” he said.

The county’s contribution to the program will come from video poker funds earmarked for economic development, Cooper said.

The city’s money will come from its general fund, which will be “a great investment,” according to Mayor Mike Wendel.

The next step is approval of an agreement between EDCO and the Chamber of Commerce, which is scheduled for the chamber’s board meeting Wednesday.

EDCO is advertising for the position and looking for office space in Prineville.

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