EDCO plans to recruit new manager

by: Photo by Holly M. Gill - Wayne Pearson

   After nearly four years as Jefferson County's manager for Economic Development for Central Oregon, Wayne Pearson will retire Sept. 28, but he still plans to be busy.
   "My wife and I want to expand our marketing efforts for our lavender farm and I will be more active with the Madras Gospel Mission," said Pearson. "We have been talking about some cottage industries to employ low-income and needy people, and maybe I will have more time to start this project."
   Pearson was hired in November 2008 under a partnership with EDCO, Jefferson County, the cities of Madras and Metolius, the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Crooked River Chamber of Commerce, and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, as well as businesses in Jefferson County.
   Despite an early controversy over the hiring process and his credentials, Pearson has spent the last few years building relationships with local businesses and industries.
   High points of his career include his work on the relocation of Mid-Columbia Lumber to Culver, and Butler Aircraft's heavy aircraft repair and maintenance center to Madras.
   The launch of the Jefferson County Education Council to support the passage of Central Oregon Community College's and School District 509-J's bond levies for the construction of local facilities was another successful venture. The Madras COCC campus has already been constructed, and 509-J will be building a new auditorium and football stadium, in addition to partnering with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to build a new K-8 school in Warm Springs.
   Pearson has been a participant on the Warm Springs business investment revolving fund team, which helped launch the Warm Springs Telecommunications Co.'s central office that opened in January.
   Recently, he has been involved in "identifying and developing three potentially large job creators for our area: basalt products, UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) test facility and the fish bypass system ..."
   "I believe these businesses will create hundreds of family-wage jobs in the next five years," he said.
   Pearson was also successful in expanding the Jefferson County Enterprise Zone to include the city of Culver, and securing a Rural Renewable Energy Development Zone for the entire county.
   "Wayne has made valuable contributions in creating a more allied and aligned business environment in Jefferson County," said Britt Spaulding, CEO of Round Butte Seed, and current chairman of the Jefferson County EDCO Advisory Board, in a press release.
   Pearson's disappointments were that he was not able to convince the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development Board of Directors to modify a land-use goal to allow certain utility-grade solar farms, or the Deschutes Valley Water District to lower its water rate for bottlers to encourage the creation of another industry.
   He was also disappointed by the limited industrial land that is readily available for sale at competitive market rates, which he felt hampered his efforts to bring in new industry.
   Pearson and his wife, Terry, own a 40-acre farm near Madras, where they operate their lavender business. They have three adult children and four grandchildren.
   "Wayne's recognition that Jefferson County has a unique set of assets for economic development and his enthusiasm to capitalize on those assets will surely be missed," said Roger Lee, executive director of EDCO in the press release.
   Lee and Spaulding plan to evaluate the needs of the position with the Jefferson County EDCO Advisory Board with the intent of recruiting a replacement over the next few months.
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