Bob Schroeter, executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Corp., resigned effective Friday, March 2, after 10 months on the job.
Schroeter said he advised the EDC executive committee in January that its budget could not sustain his $105,000-a-year salary and increased salaries for two other staff positions and that he would leave later in 2018 at the bidding of the board.
“With the salary for the job offered to me, I did not see that as sustainable long term,” he said.
Schroeter had said that the job “just wasn’t a good fit,” board Chairman Doug Sellon said.
“In this case, I don’t think it was anything that the board did or Bob did.
“It just wasn’t working out for him. Things like this are not unusual occurrences.”
Schroeter succeeded Bill Greenwood, who was EDC director from March 2014 to Dec. 31, 2016 before Schroeter took over May 1, 2017.
Greenwood resigned after what then-EDC board Chairman Randy Johnson said were “mutual discussions” with the board, saying that Greenwood’s retirement was “a mutual idea.”
Schroeter met earlier in the week with executive board members Sellon, Kelly Fox and Ryan Malanw, when the board decided he should resign as of Friday, Sellon and Schroeter said.
“That works out fine for all,” Schroeter said. “I had already said I would be ready to leave, at (their) option, when I advised them back in January. They indicated they had someone who was interested in the position and that the timing was best for them.”
From Schroeter’s perspective, “maybe it was a chemistry issue, but not in terms of the progress we’ve done,” he said.
“It is an opportunity for the board to choose a different direction if that’s what they want to do.
“From a financial standpoint, this needed to be looked at and was being looked at.”
Sellon said the board does have a possible replacement for Schroeter.
“I have talked with someone, but I can’t tell you who it is,” Sellon said. “I don’t know if we would select them or not. It’s just something I can’t talk about right now.”
Sellon, former Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe executive director, said that he will fill in as executive director until the board hires an interim or permanent director.
Schroeter has laid a good foundation for the EDC’s continued success, he said.
Schroeter “has done a terrific job” in communicating and collaborating with public entities “and showing that we were working in a collaborative way,” Sellon said.
“We appreciate Bob’s leadership on key issues including diversity, workforce development and local business support,” Sellon said in a news release.
“He leaves the EDC in a very strong position for continued success.”
The board will discuss the process going forward at a March 15 meeting.
“It mostly had to do with making a transition and moving on as quickly as we could,” Sellon said on Feb. 28. “We just have to work hard to make sure we get the right fit.”
Schroeter said over the last eight or nine months “we’ve heard 95 percent positive comments about what we’ve been dong with the EDC activity and direction from many quarters,” including Feb. 27 at a Port of Port Angeles commissioners meeting.
The nonprofit corporation is funded partially by business memberships and it will also receive public funding in 2018 including $60,000 from Clallam County, $40,000 from the Port of Port Angeles and $10,000 from the City of Sequim.
EDC board members Luke Robins and Michael McQuay had different takes on the resignation.
“I think (Schroeter) probably wasn’t the right guy,” McQuay, owner of Kokopelli Grill, said Wednesday.
Robins, president of Peninsula College, said he did not know what to make of Schroeter’s departure.
“I don’t have enough details, from my perspective,” he said. “It was unexpected. The board will have to sit down and kind of think about doing a debrief and see where we go from here.”
Schroeter, a graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law, is a former municipal lawyer for jurisdictions in Lewis County.
He started a private law practice in Lewis County and served as Comcast director of government affairs and executive director of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts before he was hired by the EDC.
Paul Gottlieb is a Senior Staff Writer with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Economic Development Corp. board of directors.