Retherford, former urban renewal director, is city's first economic development director

Wilsonville Urban Renewal Director Kristin Retherford has a new job title, and it’s indicative of the city’s recent focus on attracting new businesses and jobs. by: CITY OF WILSONVILLE - Retherford

City Manager Bryan Cosgrove announced Aug. 5 that Retherford was appointed to the newly created position of economic development manager, effective immediately. It’s part of a reshuffling of city departments that will see urban renewal placed under the auspices of the community development department run by Nancy Kraushaar.

“It’s been in the works for a while, but I’m very excited,” Retherford said. “It’s not a surprise to me because we’ve been talking about it for a few months before going public and working on the job description, what things I would be keeping and what things would be handed off to others. So it’s been talked about for a few months, but it’s really exciting to now put it out there publicly and step into the role and start doing the work.”

Retherford has worked for the city for nine years and has more than 20 years of real estate and development experience in the public and private sectors combined. During her time with the city, she has managed the two urban renewal districts, aided the development of the city’s capital improvement program, helped with real estate acquisition and worked on the design and construction of park and building projects.

“This new position was created to reflect the city council’s priorities for economic development and retaining and attracting businesses,” said Kraushaar “Given Kristin’s expertise in capital project development, urban renewal management and familiarity with city development processes, she was a natural fit for this new position.”

For the last few years Retherford has been on the city’s three-member economic development team along with Stephan Lashbrook, former assistant community development director and now SMART transit director, and Mark Ottenad, public and government affairs director.

The city’s economic development team worked with residents and business managers along with consulting firm ECONorthwest to develop the city’s first economic development strategy, which was adopted by the city council in August 2012. Her new job is an offshoot of those efforts, Retherford said.

“One of the key changes was the economy and what we’ve gone through in recent years,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of vacancies that we didn’t’ have in the past, and the recession really escalated (economic development) in terms of priorities and brought it to council’s attention and community-wide attention that if our neighboring communities are really focusing on economic development and we want to stay competitive in the region, and not just in the region but nationally as well, that we should give it a more concentrated focus.”

In her new position, Retherford will be responsible for business outreach, retention and expansion and recruitment. At the same time, she will continue to supervise the city’s urban renewal efforts to a certain degree, but will not be engaged in capital project management like she has in the past.

When it comes to urban renewal, Retherford and the city already are working on implementing the city’s voter-approved TIF Zone program, which is designed to provide incentives for businesses to refurbish industrial warehouses into higher-value manufacturing facilities with family-wage jobs.

Additionally, she will continue working with Metro and others on the development of the regionally significant 215-acre Coffee Creek Industrial Area in north Wilsonville.

Outside her work for the city, Retherford is a board member for the Oregon Economic Development Association and also participates in the legislative committee of the Association of Oregon Renewal Agencies. Further, she remains involved in economic development activities with Greater Portland Inc., Clackamas County Business and Economic Development Department, and the Oregon Business Development Department, also known as Business Oregon.

Her new position will pay Retherford a salary of approximately $94,220.28 annually.

See next week’s issue of the Spokesman for a question and answer session with Retherford about her plans and hopes for future business development in Wilsonville.

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