SEASIDE - Although it's a private organization, the Clatsop Economic Development Resources organization will probably always need public money to operate.

That's the message the Seaside City Council received during a work session with representatives from CEDR Monday night. The Council is pondering whether the city will continue contributing $7,500 annually to the economic development organization.

Without funding from public organizations, there will be little economic development in Clatsop County, said Skip Hauke, CEDR's board president and executive director of the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce.

"If we don't do it - if we can't, then who will?" Hauke asked. "Can Seaside? Can Astoria? Can Warrenton? No. That's why we work together, and it's about time."

Hauke cited a prospective employer who wants to relocate his factories in China and Tennessee to Clatsop County and create 21 jobs. CEDR is assisting him in finding a location.

But Hauke added, the employer "needs considerable more help than we have to give."

The Seaside City Council asked CEDR Director Kevin Leahy to attend the work session after several councilors asked in an earlier Council meeting what CEDR had done with its previous contributions.

Hauke, along with CEDR board members and co-founders Al Smiles and Steve Ferber, attended the meeting. Smiles is director of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce and Ferber is president of Clatsop Community Bank.

Founded three years ago, CEDR is a private, nonprofit organization that works to create, expand and retain businesses in Clatsop County. Its 18-member board is composed representatives from the public sector as well as private businesses.

Of CEDR's $206,834 budget this year, contributions from Seaside, Astoria, Warrenton, Cannon Beach and the Port of Astoria will make up a total of $23,000, or 11 percent.

Other public funding from Clatsop County, Clatsop Community College, federal Small Business Administration and the state adds another 65 percent. Carryover from last year is 18 percent of the budget.

Private sector sponsorship - including $5,000 from Pacific Power for a new CEDR website - is estimated at $12,250, or 6 percent.

In his presentation, Leahy told the City Council that, between 2009 and 2011:

• CEDR assisted in bringing $3.23 million in capital formation funding to the county.

• Created 48 jobs.

• Retained 19 jobs.

• Counseled 404 business clients; of those, 74 were from Seaside. Total number of business clients from Gearhart south to Cannon Beach: 108, approximately 26.7 of the total.

• Spent a total of 1,096 hours counseling clients, including 177 hours in Seaside and 287 hours throughout South County.

• Conducted 33 business seminars with 455 participants

• Formed the Columbia-Pacific Historic Preservation Cluster, along with the college and the city of Astoria, local artisans and historic preservation experts.

• Facilitated $50,000 of emergency loan assistance for tenants in No. 10 Sixth St. and Gunderson Café following a fire that destroyed the buildings.

• Helped to secure a $310,000 loan to keep the Sunset Empire Transportation District in operation.

Although Seaside Councilor Tita Montero and others questioned why CEDR called itself a private organization when most of its budget consisted of public funds and it was housed in an office at Clatsop Community College's Seaside campus, Hauke said CEDR was led by private enterprise, but it was a public-private organization.

"CEDR and Clatsop Community College make a great partnership," Hauke said. "Economic development is part of the college's mission, and the college provides intellectual, financial and physical resources to CEDR. We think we're a great team."

Ferber, Smiles and Jay Flint, CEDR board member and director of the Sunset Empire Transportation District, said CEDR provides a place to go for people who have a business idea but no business plan or who need to gather data to apply for a loan.

"It's a great place to send them," Ferber said. "We don't have time to work with them. CEDR is going to need public money probably forever."

Flint, who worked as a lender with Enterprise Cascadia before coming to the transit agency, said CEDR's goal is to raise more private funding for CEDR.

"The only way to do that is to show results through the years," Flint said. "Eventually, we can get more funding from private enterprise by showing those results."

City Councilor Jay Barber almost appeared to be scolding his fellow councilors for being reluctant to make a contribution. He noted that $7,500 would equal about $1.25 per resident per year.

"To feel that it's not worth at least $7,500 to not be a partner in economic development in the county is ludicrous to me," Barber said.

 

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