Local government

After long delay, Malheur County moves to fill vacant economic development slot

VALE – More than eight months after Greg Smith resigned from his economic development role, Malheur County officials are moving to create a new job to handle that work.
Malheur County Judge Dan Joyce said officials are finalizing the job description.
That would be a change from the county’s arrangement with Smith.
He was contracted to provide economic development services and though he used the title director, he was not a county employee.
Once the new job description is set, the county will advertise the position.
Joyce said last week he’d like to fill the spot soon.
“If we could find someone by summer that would be awesome,” said Joyce.
Joyce said the county will consider applications from within county government and from outside the area.
Smith, through his firm, Gregory Smith & Company of Heppner, served as the county’s economic development director from 2013 until June of 2022. Smith’s company was paid $9,000 a month for the service.
In 2017, the county added to his contract, hiring Smith to oversee the Treasure Valley Reload Center for an extra $6,000 a month.
Smith last year opted not to renew his county contract and instead went to work directly for the Malheur County Development Corp., the public company set up by county commissioners to oversee the reload project. Smith’s company was paid $9,000 a month just for that work but he quit in February.
Since Smith stopped his economic development work, the county relied Business Oregon, the state economic development department, and the Snake River Economic Development Alliance for leads on new businesses, said Joyce.
The judge said he has not seen any economic development proposals that fit Malheur County.
“Most everything I’ve seen has been for Interstate 5,” he said.
The county economic development web site has remained relatively unchanged since Smith departed last summer, though there is a note on the page notifying readers the department is not staffed. The note informs readers the economic development department email is being monitored and directs questions to the county court.
Smith also was to complete a series of tasks for the county before he officially left office last summer but didn’t appear to do that.
For example, Smith was to provide a list of all outstanding and ongoing economic development projects, deliver all electronic files, records and work products and disable his economic development email account and transfer emails to the county.
While he did check off some of the tasks – including delivering emails to the county – others were left undone.
A list of economic development projects Smith was pursing were not complete, Joyce said last year.
Smith was also to brief the county on economic development projects before his departure. Joyce said last year he did not ask Smith for a briefing on such matters.
Smith also did not furnish much in terms of written or verbal communication regarding economic development projects, according to county records.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

Previous coverage:

UPDATE: Greg Smith resigns from top county economic development position

Smith leaves key tasks undone as he ends economic development tenure for Malheur County

County’s marketing material sends businesses to leaders no longer in office – and one who has died

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