Former port director to lead CREDC

Larry Paulson will lead economic development agency

By Craig Brown, Columbian metro editor

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The retired director of the Port of Vancouver has been named interim president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

Larry Paulson was announced late Monday as the interim occupant of the job, which was vacated earlier this year when Lisa Nisenfeld was appointed director of the Oregon Employment Department by Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Paulson is expected to serve the CREDC for two to three months as the organization continues to search for a permanent successor to Nisenfeld, who had been in the job since September 2011.

“I believe my experience leading the port and my understanding of the mission of the CREDC will allow for a smooth transition from Lisa’s departure to the arrival of the new president,” Paulson said in a statement released by the organization.

Paulson, 67, retired April 30, 2012, from the port, where he had been executive director since 1999. The Vancouver resident is also an attorney and a retired brigadier general with the Oregon Air National Guard. He currently chairs the board of the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, one of the Portland area’s largest charitable organizations.

CREDC board president Bill Dudley said, “We are extremely lucky to have someone of Larry’s experience and qualifications to step into the interim role and assure the CREDC doesn’t miss a beat as we conclude the search for our next president.”

Dudley said a search committee has received more than four dozen applications for the job and is in the process of reviewing them and selecting a group of finalists.

For 31 years the private nonprofit CREDC has been the area’s primary economic development agency. But it drew fire earlier this year when newly elected Republican County Commissioner David Madore and incumbent Tom Mielke criticized the group for promoting the Columbia River Crossing project — and withdrew $200,000 in county funding for the council.

Later, the county received $169,000 in economic development funding from the state, which it agreed to pass through to the CREDC. In return, the CREDC in May agreed to welcome Madore to its board.