EDC requests funds, partnership with public utility district

Clallam County Public Utility District commissioners have been asked to consider a $20,000 funding request and partnership with Clallam County Economic Development Corp., or EDC.

Colleen McAleer, EDC executive director, pitched a renewed contract at the PUD commissioners’ meeting on Aug. 12.

PUD commissioners took no action on the proposal.

“We support economic development,” said Will Purser, chairman of the PUD board. “We have participated in the EDC in the past. We just need to talk it over and see how it goes.”

The EDC is a private nonprofit that helps area businesses.

The PUD ended its contractual relationship with the EDC in 2016, agency spokeswoman Nicole Clark said.

“Our GM says we don’t know at this time if we will re-engage,” Clark said last week. “Staff will have to have a future discussion with commissioners at a meeting to get direction from them and discuss deliverables.”

Purser, a longtime PUD commissioner, said previous contracts with the EDC contained deliverables that required the EDC to perform specific tasks.

“We have to have a deliverable of service, or something like that,” Purser said at the meeting. “We’ve done that in the past. Maybe we could expand that and fund other services to justify the high dollar amount.”

McAleer, a Port of Port Angeles commissioner who became the EDC’s executive director in May, said the EDC is looking to expand its private sector base.

“Right now, (private support) is about $57,000 out of the $260,000, which is our total budget,” McAleer told PUD General Manager Doug Nass.

The EDC is trying to increase private funding by generating more membership. It has received financial support from local governments like Clallam County.

“We’ve got other entities that are at $40,000, and the county’s at $60,000,” McAleer said.

“It’s very important to the full board and myself that Clallam PUD is a member of the EDC, a contracting partner.

“If you would like a board seat, we will make that happen,” McAleer added.

The EDC is governed by a 16-member board.

EDC board member Jim Moran of Lumber Traders told the PUD commission that the EDC’s effort to promote the Emerald Coast Opportunity Zone could help the local economy.

Opportunity Zones are federal development incentives for low-income areas. Those with capital gains ripe for spending will get a tax break by putting money into the Emerald Coast Opportunity Zone.

The effort is being piloted locally by a collaboration of North Olympic Peninsula tribes, city governments and the EDC.

“The federal government is keenly interested in this concept of the opportunity zones,” said Moran, who is also a Port Angeles City Council member.

Brian Garrett, EDC board member and owner of Ballymore Consulting, LLC, said there is a need in every community for economic development.

“It is a partnership, and I think it’s important to get all the partners that we can at the table to get an attitude of can-do, and a focus on the issue,” Garrett said.

Kyle Johnson, an EDC board member and head of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Economic Development Authority, said the PUD has a role in economic development given its footprint in major infrastructure projects.

“I do have to tell you that a couple years ago, we actually withdrew a potion of our funding from the EDC because we weren’t real happy with about how things were going,” Johnson said of the Jamestown S’Kallalm Tribe.

“But leadership is everything. And right now, watching what Colleen is doing, what this board is doing, leadership is back. There’s momentum.”

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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