Moore targets private sector, eager to help business growth

Former CREDC executive plans to stay in Southwest Washington

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter



Bonnie Moore

AGE: 34

OCCUPATION: Seeking opportunities after recently resigning from the Columbia River Economic Development Council

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts degree in industrial globalization from the University of California, Berkeley; master of business administration from the University of Phoenix.

EXPERIENCE: Public relations associate, Outcast Communications; education product management coordinator, Sybase Inc.; business development manager, business leader -- North Carolina division, director of North America operations, director of business development, Sunspring Metal Corp.; director of business services, jointly reporting to the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council and the CREDC; vice president of business growth and innovation, CREDC.

FLUENT IN: Mandarin Chinese.

FAVORITE POEM: “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

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It’s difficult to imagine Clark County’s economic-development game without Bonnie Moore running and gunning to help drive everything from an individual corporation’s growth to a region’s transition to a knowledge-based economy.

But get used to it we will — for now.

Moore, 34, resigned in December from her position as the Columbia River Economic Development Council’s vice-president of business growth and innovation. She immediately launched a consultancy and is working with companies in Southwest Washington’s private sector.

The economic development council — a public-private partnership and Clark County’s primary business recruiter and jobs promoter since 1982 — has seen its share of staff changes over the years.

Moore, whose professional background includes everything from global manufacturing and workforce development to real estate investment and public relations, left a big imprint. For example, she won a $2.2 million federal grant to help metals manufacturers diversify into new markets and upgrade their workers’ skills.

When she wasn’t poring over grant applications or visiting up to 100 companies annually, Moore could be found at invitation-only events cheering on software startups.

To be sure, her decision to leave the organization doesn’t necessarily mean she’s permanently exiting the game in which she’d become a go-to expert. Moore said she left for personal reasons and that she would seek opportunities she could not pursue while working at the CREDC.

She came from a private-sector background, and her work at the CREDC “changed my view of public-private partnerships and what it takes to grow community.”

She said she intends to stay in Southwest Washington. That makes sense.

After all, Moore came to Vancouver more than three years ago seeking a fresh start from a situation in which she’d become, as she described it, the “Michael Clayton” of her previous employer.

It’s a reference to the film starring George Clooney, in which he plays a hard-nosed corporate fixer.

In Moore’s case, she was ordered to fire people.

She hated it.

“I want to grow companies,” she said in a recent interview, “not tear down companies.”

‘More self-aware’

Bonnie Lin Moore grew up in Santa Monica, Calif., the daughter of Douglas and Jennifer Lin, who had emigrated from Taiwan to the United States.

“Lin” is a surname for “forest” or “trees.” For Moore’s family, it underscored the importance of growing together, like a strong and sturdy forest.

Her father, an entrepreneur at heart, quickly became successful in America, where, among other things, he established a restaurant franchise and invested in real estate.

Following the rules, excelling at academics and doing the right thing were priorities in the Lin household.

Moore had other ideas. In the run-up to her teenage years, she recalled, “I was a rule-breaker.”

That didn’t sit well with her father, who saw the gathering of negative influences and, in a bid to head them off, relocated the family to the City of 10,000 Buddhas, a monastic community in Northern California.

Moore rebelled more than a few times against the imposition of a strict life but later came to appreciate the education (graduates of the City of 10,000 Buddhas have gone on to elite universities) and the experience. It taught her about the gravity of life’s choices, about how you don’t control as much as you think you do.

“I became so much more self-aware,” she said.

And she came away from the austere community ready to deepen her education and to carve out a career.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley (her MBA would come later, from the University of Phoenix). In San Francisco, she plunged into the booming scene, becoming a public relations go-getter for high-tech companies itching to go public.

From there, she leapt to Sunspring Metal Corp., a global manufacturer of components for bathroom accessories. From 2001 to 2010, Moore worked in just about every capacity for the company, devising marketing strategies, establishing a U.S. distribution center in North Carolina, boosting on-time delivery, and revamping international and domestic supply chains.

Helping others

Late last decade, Moore’s deep knowledge of the company’s operations twisted into an ugly burden. In the face of a global economic meltdown, Sunspring told her to show people the door.

She was Michael Clayton.

It left her looking to leave, which she eventually did. But not before the company offered her a top job overseeing sales in Europe.

She walked away.

Ultimately, she landed in Vancouver in April 2010, first reporting jointly to the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council and the CREDC, and later moving into a full-time position with the economic development council.

To this day, Moore remembers the feeling she had when she decided to leave Sunspring.

“I want to work in a company where I’m glad to come to work because I’m helping people,” she said, “and I’m helping businesses grow.”

Although Moore said goodbye to the CREDC — where, by all accounts, she was happy to come to work and where she helped companies expand — there’s every sense that her desire to help others remains firmly in place.

Bonnie Moore

A profile of Bonnie Moore, former CREDC executive.