By Lori Roach

            Six months ago Kevin Waters become the Executive Director of the Skamania County Economic Development Council (EDC) and he is set on focusing on the future and focusing on making sure the county is set up for success, by securing a working relationship with legislators on the tools needed to continue to grow the county.

             Waters is new to the public sector, but his Skamania County roots run deep. He is a fourth generation Skamania County community member, business owner and entrepreneur, and was a Skamania County Port Commissioner for over 8 years.

             Prior to coming on at the EDC he was one of the founding members of Backwoods Brewing Company out of Carson Washington and prior to that he helped his family start the neighboring Carson General Store. He studied Public Relations at Eastern Washington University and graduated from Stevenson High School. In addition to that he and his wife and daughter own Maple Leaf Events Wedding Venue.

            “The unique thing about this EDC is its ability to lend,” said Waters. “We have loan programs for small business.”

            The EDC works closely with the Public Utilities District (PUD), the county and the city.

            “We need stronger schools,” said Waters. The schools are 45 -70 years old. It’s time to think about new schools in our city.”

            Skamania County has always been a timber county.

            “We’ve fought hard for timber, but it is also time to look at other avenues,” said Waters. “We are focusing on infrastructure at this time so we have the tools to be able to try and get more businesses. More than anything is setting up a thriving community that is dependent on ourselves. Having the tools in place to attract individuals and families and residents that want to live and invest in our community.”

            To learn more about Skamania County and the Skamania County Economic Development Council be sure to attend their annual luncheon on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at Skamania Lodge.

            Speakers will include Elona Trogub, Co-Founder and Director of Operations at Gorge Greens, which is the farms division of Wind River Biomass Utility.

            Gorge Greens and the Wind River Biomass Utility are developing a campus of renewable energy production and organic, regenerative “smartfarms”.

            This intergenerational effort is one solution to bridging the gap between loggers and environmentalist as well as narrowing the urban-rural divide.

            The featured Speaker will be F. Dean Maldonado,

Commercial Real Estate Development and Investments Manager. FDM Development brings 25 years’ experience in Commercial Real Estate, Investments, Development, Construction and Entitlements. Including private/public developments.

            Dean’s talk will be: Developing City, County, and Port Properties in Tier II towns

            Dean has worked in development and construction for over 25 years. He started his career managing international sales with Caterpillar. He learned about construction literally from the ground up, working with the teams that moved the earth. From Caterpillar, Dean was recruited by a large investor. During this time, he deepened his knowledge of construction and added an understanding of investment and development. He successfully ran a property portfolio in excess of $300M.

            This year’s event is graciously sponsored by: Ray Broughton of CrossCountry Mortgage, Umpqua Bank, Riverview Community Bank, and WKO Inc.

            The luncheon cost is $20.00.  For further information, menu options, and to register on-line for the luncheon visit www.skamania-edc.org  Call the EDC at 509-427-5110 with questions or email [email protected]  RSVP by March 13, 2020 to the EDC.

            The Skamania County EDC has a Board of Directors that consists of no less than seven and no more than 13 members, all from varied business and government backgrounds within Skamania County. They represent public and private sectors, local governments, and private, industrial, commercial, recreational and retail businesses. Directors serve two-year terms and act as an advisory board to the Skamania County EDC staff. The Board meets on a monthly basis to advise and direct EDC staff on projects and programs affecting job creation and economic stability in Skamania County.