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Development Director: Energy, economy linked

By Kelley Atherton

Only time will tell if a new economic development director in Del Norte County will facilitate the kind of economic development community community leaders have been talking about for many years now.

The Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority is putting its trust in Jim Grossman, and board members seem confident.

Grossman, who will begin work Aug. 15, spoke with The Daily Triplicate on Thursday.

Economic development is often talked about in Del Norte. The community is dealing with the decline of its major industries, such as timber and fishing.

Grossman's job description includes updating the County Economic Development Strategy, (CEDS) which includes goals and projects; finding funding sources for the projects; recruiting businesses to the area; assisting the city, county and harbor to identify economic development needs; and making recommendations to the EDA.

"I'll work with others to make sure economic development is visible¬ómaking progress and following the plan that's adopted," Grossman said.

He was offered a job as city administrator in Gold Beach, Ore., but chose instead to come to here.

The job was appealing to Grossman because he wanted to work in economic development and his wife, Becky Crockett, was born and raised here.

"It was a very good opportunity," he said. "I decided to go in this direction."

Grossman met his wife over 20 years ago in Coquille, Ore. This is also a good area for his two boys, he said.

Having family in Del Norte has made the local economy more important to him, "for the kids."

Those kids need good-paying jobs someday, he said, adding "that's why folks here are interested in economic development."

Grossman said he gained experience in economic development working for PacifiCorp in Portland and Salt Lake City.

In recent years, Grossman has managed his own business consulting companies on sustainable energy, and a Christmas tree farm. He's also worked as a community development consultant¬óthis required collaborating with government agencies and other stakeholders to spur business and tourism development, he said.

In Grossman's early years, he was a TV news reporter and anchor in Tri-Cities, Wash. There, he became interested in energy.

"At the time there was a lot of energy issues in Washington," Grossman said.

He was referring to the Washington Public Power Supply System bond default case in the 1980s. This resulted in a $92 million settlement for bondholders and several unfinished nuclear power plants.

Energy issues, he said, are directly related to economic development. It's become an especially important issue as the country struggles to deal with a slumping economy and high energy costs.

Grossman has been studying up on Del Norte County. He noticed that Pelican Bay State Prison has provided a slew of jobs for the community. Crescent City's wastewater treatment plant project is a "positive step forward," he said, toward getting more businesses.

Also, the sovereign nations seem to be economic drivers here, Grossman said, referring to Elk Valley and Smith River rancherias' plans for resorts and casinos.

While, the background is helping Grossman become familiar with the area, for right now he said he's still an outsider coming in.

 
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