Clark County, CREDC begin to rebuild relationship (with video)

Agency will receive pass-through funding, Commissioner Madore will get a seat on its board




Lisa Nisenfeld is leaving her job as president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council to become director of Oregon's Employment Department, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced on Monday.

Two months after Clark County’s primary economic development group ousted one of its biggest critics from its board of directors, the organization says it’s ready to give the relationship another shot.

That’s right: the Columbia River Economic Development Council and Clark County are getting back together.

Lisa Nisenfeld, president of the CREDC, said Thursday afternoon the group will welcome Clark County Commissioner David Madore back to the table.

“We’re looking forward to rebuilding our relationship with the county,” Nisenfeld said. “Having Commissioner Madore on the board where he can learn what we do and why we do it is a step in the right direction.”

Back in March, the two sides appeared ready to split for good. The breakup came after Madore and Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke decided to halt $200,000 in county funding to the CREDC over the coming two years.

At the time, the two Republican commissioners said if the economic development group withdrew its support for the Columbia River Crossing project, they would reconsider funding the group.

In response, the CREDC revoked the county’s seat on both the organization’s board of directors and executive board. At the time, the seat was being held by the newly elected Madore.

So what changed?

At the end of March, the state’s Department of Commerce sent a letter to the county asking it to identify an associate development organization for pass-through funding. According to County Administrator Bill Barron, that funding comes to $169,000 over two years.

The organization in Clark County that most clearly fits the state’s criteria for such an organization is the CREDC. But before the county handed over the money, it wanted to rejoin the group on the board of directors.

“The board requested that in affirming CREDC as an economic organization that we re-establish the partnership with us at the table,” said Commissioner Steve Stuart.

Stuart said after learning the group would welcome the county back, he signed a letter telling the state that the CREDC will receive the funds.

Stuart also said Madore will be the commissioner who will represent the county at CREDC meetings.

Madore declined request for comment on this story.

At Wednesday’s board time discussion, where commissioners talk about upcoming policy issues, Madore said he was happy the two sides are going to reconcile.

“I like the idea of having whatever relationship with them,” Madore said. “To be able to have two-way conversations, it just helps close the communication gap. It’s a healthy thing.”

Nisenfeld said the reappointment of Madore to the board was confirmed by a board vote this morning.

Nisenfeld said the CREDC has received the money from the state every two years for the past 10 years. That means this money does not replace the $200,000 the county pulled from CREDC’s revenues.

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; ;

View a video of commissioners talking about rejoining the CREDC on The Columbian’s YouTube channel.