Greg Smith, Malheur County’s economic development director, speaking to county commissioners at the Malheur County Courthouse in December. (The Enterprise/File)
ALBANY – Greg Smith, Malheur County’s economic development director, is no longer managing a rail shipping project for Linn County and officials have started over on finding a company to operate its terminal.
Smith, through his firm Gregory Smith and Company, has played the same role in Linn County that he does in Malheur County. He worked with Linn County’s economic development entities to propose a rail shipping center in Millersburg, adjacent to Albany.
As in Nyssa, that project relied on state funding. Smith’s company worked for Linn Economic Development Group through October 2018 and was paid $158,000. Economic development officials said he was continued month to month at $10,000 a month from January through July.
Development Group officials decided at the end of July to discontinue Smith’s work, but they wouldn’t go into detail.
“We were at a place where we needed a different skill set, a set of skills with financial analysis background,” said Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist.
“Unfortunately, until my account receivable is paid in full I will not be providing my exceptional professional service to that worthy project,” Smith said in an email Friday.
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“LEDG is current on its bills,” Nyquist said in response to that. “in the case of the Smith invoice, there was no written contract for the period in question. Ultimately, the board agreed to pay the invoice in a time and manner that would not jeopardize cash flows with our ongoing project. To date, LEDG has paid $20,000 of the $70,000 invoice.”
Nyquist also confirmed one other major change for the Millersburg project: a fresh search for a company to run the shipping center.
He said negotiations with Northwest Container Services “broke down” over terms and the talks were ended in December. He said Smith had recruited Northwest Container for the Millersburg project.
He said county officials have issued a request for proposals to find another possible terminal operator.
“In our view, an RFP process is the best way to ensure fair value to the taxpayers,” Nyquist said. “I regret not doing that in the beginning.”
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