Clark County Halts Funding to EDC

By Stephanie Rice, January 22, 2013, The Columbian,

Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke have voted to halt funding to the Columbia River Economic Development Council, effective immediately, because the CREDC supports the Columbia River Crossing.

In December — before Madore took office — commissioners signed a two-year contract with the CREDC worth $100,000.

However, in a letter dated Jan. 16 to CREDC President Lisa Nisenfeld, Madore and Mielke wrote that the CREDC can stop all efforts to help economic development in unincorporated areas of Clark County.

“We certainly recognize the positive value that CREDC can bring to economic development in Clark County through its recruitment and retention programs,” the letter reads. “However, that focus on jobs has been diluted by the CREDC Board voting to advocate for the CRC project which includes light rail. Since Clark County voters took a firm position against light rail during the general election on November 6, 2012, it would be inappropriate for their county government to provide public funding to any agency which acts at odds with their vote.”

The letter goes on to say if the CREDC Board of Directors votes to withdraw support for the CRC, the county will reinstate funding.

“It is our genuine hope that this halt in funding will not continue indefinitely, but to be plain that outcome is wholly in the hands of the CREDC board,” the letter reads. “We hope and trust that the CREDC board will act appropriately and end its advocacy for CRC and light rail.”

Commissioner Steve Stuart did not sign the letter. Once he heard about the letter, he said today that he ordered it be rewritten so his name did not even appear at the bottom along with Madore’s and Mielke’s names.

The Columbia River Economic Development Council is Clark County’s largest nonprofit business recruiter and jobs promoter. It announced in September that it has already reached 60 percent of its goal of raising $5.5 million through 2017 to fund its annual operating budget.

The Vancouver-based nonprofit, formed in 1982, helps grow existing businesses, helps entrepreneurs secure capital, preserves and creates more land for industrial and commercial employers and teams up with schools to boost education in science, technology, engineering and math.

In November, voters rejected a sales tax increase to pay for maintenance and operations of light rail.

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