Business & economy, Special Reports

UPDATE: Greg Smith resigns from top county economic development position

Greg Smith, Malheur County economic development director, discusses the Treasure Valley Reload Center at a Nyssa meeting on May 17. Beside him is his aide, Ryan Bailey. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

UPDATE Wednesday, June 29: Malheur County Commissioner Ron Jacobs said Wednesday that Greg Smith was leaving only his economic development role and would continue managing the Treasure Valley Reload Center.

He said the Malheur County Court was in discussions with the Malheur County Development Corp. about whether that public company would directly retain Smith while the county continued to cover the cost of Smith’s contract.

Smith in his resignation letter said that his company was “not renewing its contract for services rendered to Malheur County.” That contract included work for reload center.

VALE – Greg Smith, Malheur County Economic Development director, notified county officials Tuesday, June 28, he will resign from his position immediately.

Smith, through his company, Gregory Smith & Company of Heppner, served as the county economic development director since 2013. Smith is paid $9,000 a month for his economic development work. In 2017, the county expanded his contract to include the planned Nyssa rail reload center and paid him additional $6,000 a month.

“It has been an honor to serve the good folks in Malheur County, and to make a difference in the area,” Smith began in his resignation letter.

Smith then wrote his company was no longer interested in “continuing to provide services” to Malheur County. His annual contract expires on Thursday, June 30.

“It has become apparent that the environment surrounding economic development has become incredibly toxic. Please accept this letter as formal notification that Gregory Smith & Company will not be renewing its contract for services rendered to Malheur County,” wrote Smith.

Smith, a Republican state representative, worked part-time on his county economic development director duties and operated a one-person office in Ontario. He also provides contract services to Harney County and Eastern Oregon University and is employed full time by the Columbia Development Authority.

The county court was originally scheduled to consider renewing Smith’s $180,000-a-year pact Wednesday, June 29.

In his resignation letter, Smith also requested a “comprehensive financial audit be conducted upon our exit.”

Dan Joyce, Malheur County judge, said he learned about Smith’s resignation Tuesday afternoon.

“I am kind of shocked. I’ve got to process this,” said Joyce.

Joyce indicated earlier in June the county would most likely extend its contract with Smith.

“My guess is it would be like a three-month extension or maybe a six-month extension if all the numbers fall into place,” said Joyce previously.

The next step for the county, said Joyce, is “a good question.”

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