By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

GROW project wraps up

Last year, the commissioners agreed to have the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership conduct the project at a cost of $107,000. They charged Executive Director Jody Christensen with leading a group of 65 community leaders in a series of 20 three-hour sessions.

As part of the project, the task force created a website to help direct local economic development efforts and conceived and implemented a set of pilot projects in partnership with local agencies and businesses. It also drafted a set of criteria for future allocation of local video lottery revenue, which is, by law, dedicated to economic development.

Christensen said she felt the group had delivered on what it promised — a blueprint for future action and some pilot projects to point the way. “This has been an extraordinary opportunity to really help create a foundation for economic development in the county,” she said.

Commissioner Mary Stern, the board’s economic development liaison, said the commissioners are planning to bring someone in to assist the county with future economic development efforts, most likely on a contract basis, though that is still under discussion.

“This has been a long time coming, and we never would’ve gotten this far without you and our relationship over the years with the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership,” Stern told Christensen. “When Kathy and I started in 2003,” she said, referring to Commissioner Kathy George, “what we had in terms of economic development plans was almost embarrassing.”

Christensen responded, “We are delighted to know we helped start this conversation, and whatever the next step is, as long as we’re moving forward, we’re behind you.

“You’re making the decisions that are right for this community, and we stand with you 100 percent ... If you need anything from us, our doors are always open to you.”

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