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T H E M O N T H LY B U S I N E S S S E C T I O N F O R L I N N A N D B E N T O N C O U N T I E S A N D T H E M I D - W I L L A M E T T E VA L L E Y • September 2012 Tom Nelson, economic development manager, is shown in his office in City Hall recently. ANDY CRIPE | MID-VALLEY INBUSINESS Bringing in economic success Tom Nelson begins as Corvallis’ economic development manager MID-VALLEY InBUSINESS T om Nelson, 59, is starting his second week as the city of Corvallis’ economic development manager. In this interview with Mid-Valley InBusiness conducted last week, Nelson talks about his goals in his new job, the challenges that he’s facing and prospects for regional cooperation on economic issues. Mid-Valley InBusiness: It seems that adding to the degree of difficulty in your job in Corvallis is that there are some segments of the community that are, at best, ambivalent about the entire idea of economic development. How do you work around that? Tom Nelson: I do think that the Corvallis community as a whole is more engaged (than other communities I’ve worked with) in decision making. I use that as a win and say,“OK, if you’re interested in this, come tell me how we can develop this community in a positive way, where we can have a better economic standing than we do now.”And we listen and we get those ideas. Are we going to implement everything that we hear? Obviously not. But we will hopefully be able to gather information and recruit people to a common vision. InBusiness: To the extent possible. Nelson: To the extent possible. (He holds up a copy of the economic development plan from the Corvallis Economic Development Commission.) You know, this is my game plan. This is always my fallback (position) to anyone who says,“Well, you should be doing this instead.” Until the Economic Development Commission and the city manager tell me to do something different, this is what I’m going to be doing. InBusiness: The expectations that Corvallis has for this position are extraordinarily high. What don’t people understand about economic development and the people who work in this kind of job? Nelson: Economic development is not just business development. Economic development includes development of community. … (And there’s) something (else) that some people don’t understand about economic development. They don’t understand that for communities in Oregon with our tax system, a success is bringing in a business that is going to increase the total assessed value in a community because that’s how we pay our bills, that’s how we can develop. Not only do they supply jobs but they supply that investment in community. And I think that we have some pretty good ideas about what kind of businesses we want to have. InBusiness: What sort of advantages does Corvallis have in terms of economic development? Nelson: Corvallis is blessed with a lot of property. Many, many communities in the state don’t have the significant amount of property that Corvallis has, so there’s room for good development. Another thing that Corvallis is blessed with is the university and the research that comes out of the university. I think that there’s also opportunity for investment in business development in the SEE NELSON | A7 Finding locations for business in the proper zoned areas of Albany is a key to John Pascone’s success. MARK YLEN MID-VALLEY INBUSINESS John Pascone shares development experience MID-VALLEY InBUSINESS J ohn Pascone is the president of the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp., a position he’s held since 1997. He has 35 years of experience working with companies of all sizes, and also has started and owned several businesses of his own. For 19 years, he worked as a business advocate and counselor through the Linn-Benton Community College Business Development Center. He’s known Tom Nelson, the new economic development manager for the city of Corvallis, for years. In this interview, conducted last week, Pascone offered some advice to his old colleague and reflected on some of the lessons he’s learned about economic development. Mid-Valley InBusiness: You’ve been working with economic development issues, with AMEDC and other organizations, for decades. In your experience, what are some of the things people just don’t understand about economic development? John Pascone: Well, a lot of people think economic development is community development. … My job as I see it is job creation, and it’s manufacturing and traded sector jobs because that brings money in from the outside. Retail jobs just circulate within a community. Manufacturing and traded sector jobs bring money in from the outside. That’s what you’d like, to ship your goods and services outside your community and bring dollars in. InBusiness: If you were starting in Corval- 20144751 6 X 2.00 HOUSE ACCT PAID | lis as the economic development manager, would part of your strategy be to try to turn down expectations a bit? Pascone: Well, you’d certainly have to set the tone for what economic development is. Corvallis has not been known for embracing business, so you have to set the stage for the fact that jobs are wealth. Traded sector jobs represent additional wealth. Manufacturing jobs pay higher wage levels than other sectors of the economy and so manufacturing and traded sector jobs are really important. Now, all jobs are important. But if as a community you’re going to focus on certain sectors or ways to make your community better off, you want to focus on jobs that raise everybody’s boat. SEE PASCONE | A6

In Business September 2012

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