In Our View: CREDC’s New Leader

Nisenfeld has the impressive experience and local familiarity to fill a vital role

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Two words often used to describe the new CEO of the Columbia River Economic Development Council are “hard worker.” Lisa Nisenfeld will summon all of her powers as a diligent leader as she moves into her new role.

Short term, Nisenfeld will work at her new position while also overseeing the work of the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council until a replacement for her at the council is hired. Long term, Nisenfeld is charged with guiding the CREDC’s 125 members toward economic recovery and expansion of the local economy. She certainly has the experience for such a crucial role, having served not only as executive director of the workforce development council but also as the leader of her own consulting firm. And Nisenfeld will benefit from her familiarity with the local scene. She’s been the interim president at CREDC since Bart Phillips resigned in May.

Nisenfeld also is well-versed in the 127-page Clark County Economic Development Plan, which prescribes three directions for local employment growth: information technology, health care and international trade. All three of those areas pay fairly well, and they’ll all be around into perpetuity, immune to seasonal fluctuations or threats of demise.

Pursuing that plan requires focusing on local economic strengths, which Nisenfeld identifies as a skilled workforce, the community’s eagerness to work together, and the innovation seen among many local companies.

That second community strength is also found in Nisenfeld’s leadership style. Collaborative skills dominate her. “She’s an aggregator,” Mark Lampton said in a Sunday Columbian story. Lampton is a Port of Camas-Washougal commissioner. And, speaking of the southeast corner of Clark County, we like Nisenfeld’s attitude about the new Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association, which she views as a partner in economic development. That new group’s leader, Paul Dennis, former Camas mayor, is off and running with a game plan just as bold as Nisenfeld’s.

The CREDC has been Clark County’s best hope for economic growth since its founding almost three decades ago. Its strength is in numbers; those 125 members come from both the public and private sectors. And now, paired with the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Council, the CREDC offers our community legitimate hope for clawing our way out of the economic crisis, helping local businesses grow, recruiting new companies to Clark County, creating jobs and diversifying the local economy.

When you look at how the decline of the lumber industry has ravaged smaller communities elsewhere, the value of economic development teamwork becomes eminently clear.