Ridgefield resident and building industry advocate Mike Bomar was named president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council on Tuesday, ending a national search that attracted more than 60 applicants to fill the position vacated in September by Lisa Nisenfeld.
Bomar, 34, brings education and experience to the position, having served as executive director of the Southwest Washington Contractors Association since 2010. Before that, the University of Washington graduate worked from the ground up for the Clark County Building Industry Association, rising from a 2004 internship to governmental affairs director of the 700-member homebuilders’ group.
Bomar was appointed to the position by a unanimous vote of the CREDC’s 40-member board. He will report to his first day of work on Dec. 2.
“I think we were looking for somebody that had a rounded skill set,” and Bomar fit the bill, said Bill Dudley, a Vancouver attorney who is board chairman of the 160-member public-private economic development and job recruitment organization.
Nisenfeld, 59, was appointed in August by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber to head Oregon’s troubled Employment Department, after her two-year tenure as president of the CREDC. She previously served as executive director of Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council and was named president of the CREDC in September 2011.
Nisenfeld’s tenure was marked by conflict in early 2013 between the CREDC and two Clark County commissioners. David Madore, then a newly elected Clark County commissioner and opponent of light rail, teamed up with fellow Republican commissioner, Tom Mielke, to halt $200,000 worth of county funding earmarked for the CREDC. The two commissioners questioned the CREDC’s advocacy for the Columbia River Crossing project and light rail. Much of that funding was later reinstated.
Larry Paulson, retired director of the Port of Vancouver, has served and will continue to serve as the economic development council’s interim president, overseeing daily operations at the CREDC offices at 805 Broadway, Vancouver.
Dudley stressed Bomar excelled in four key qualification areas, among them leadership, strategic planning, organizational skills and the kind of management skills required to direct the economic development group’s six-person staff.
In Bomar, “We thought we found somebody who had that combination,” Dudley said. “This is an individual who has not only a great skill set, but great potential.”
Bomar holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington and a master’s in public administration, focused on applied policy.
“It means figuring out how to make policy work and it’s very applicable to what I’m doing with the CREDC,” Bomar said.
He is also a 2009 graduate of Leadership Clark County, a rigorous 10-month course on everything from the area’s transportation needs to its businesses and nonprofit agencies. Bomar also recently completed a professional development program through the Institute for Organization Management with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
He is married and the father of two children, ages 4 and 2.
In a written statement to the nearly 500-member Southwest Washington Contractors Association, Bomar said the group has formed a search committee to recruit and hire a new director. The committee will be led by Joe Currie, the group’s incoming president and a contractor with JWC Construction LLC.