The Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association opened 2019 with a rave report card, but the agency won’t see 2020.
Toward the end of the year, officials in Camas, Washougal and the Port of Camas-Washougal all discussed terminating their specific agreements, which the three agencies started in 2011.
Vancouver consulting firm E.D. Hovee & Co. released an interim report card on the agency in early January, which estimated the association helped create 4,458 jobs and aided in the arrival or expansion of dozens of local businesses, netting more than $6 million in new revenue for the association’s three participating government agencies.
Officials from all three partners said they’ve been looking at what to do with the association since Executive Director Paul Dennis, a former mayor of Camas, stepped down in May. Dennis gave his notice in March, and his last day was May 31. He said he hasn’t had any contact about the organization since.
Dennis said he left to pursue other opportunities, including focusing more on Forged Custom Homes, of which he is owner and president.
“After Paul stepped down and moved on, (the association) had kind of run its course,” said David Ripp, executive director of the port. “It was very beneficial to us during the recession times, but we’ve grown so much here at the port that lets take that money we’re putting toward (the association) and hire a business development director.”
Ripp said 50 percent of funding for the organization came from the port, roughly $100,000 a year. He said each city contributed 25 percent, or roughly $50,000, each. The port will use those funds for its own development director. The city of Camas included funds in the 2020 budget for an economic development director.
Camas City Administrator Pete Capell said the three agencies have all said they plan to continue collaborating on economic development for east county.
Even with dissolving the official agency, all three partners plan on continuing to work together.
“We still have an amazing collaboration opportunity with the city of Camas and the port,” Washougal Mayor Molly Coston said. “We just need to make sure we find a strategy that will be a little tighter in the goals, aspirations and how the funding is allocated.”