Sector News

A new leader of New Vision to offer new look at development

October 1, 2015
Borderless Leadership

It’s accurate to call Grant County one of Central Washington’s economic success stories. The area, like the Yakima Valley, has a strong agricultural heritage — it proudly proclaims the “largest production of potatoes in the U.S.” — and the ag sector remains strong both in crop production and food processing.

But in recent decades, the county — whose largest city is Moses Lake — has diversified into a range of companies in manufacturing, data centers and aerospace. Impressive population growth reflects that economic diversity; more than 93,000 people now call Grant County home, a 70 percent increase since 1990 and more than double Yakima County’s population growth rate in that period.

Grant County’s story is relevant to Yakima County now that New Vision, the economic development agency for Yakima County, has looked to Moses Lake for its new leader. Jonathan Smith, the executive director of the Grant County Economic Development Council, will start at New Vision on Oct. 21.

Smith, 36, came to the Grant County organization as its director of communications and research in 2005; he was promoted to executive director in 2012 after two years of grooming by his predecessor. Among the successes he counted in his interview are recruiting and assisting eight companies that have invested $1 billion in new facilities and created 500 full-time jobs in his time there. His résumé also includes creation of a training program to help local students get available jobs, organizing a successful capital campaign and securing $25 million in infrastructure improvement funding for industrial sites.

Grant County has some advantages that aren’t available everywhere, including Yakima County. Low power rates courtesy of a public utility district and expanses of available land attracted data centers and server farms from high-tech companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and Dell.

In addition, a former Air Force base now serves as an international airport that for four decades was the site of training flights for Japan Air Lines pilots until that program ended in 2009. The airport, which sees general aviation and military flights, is the home of a large aircraft maintenance company. The Port of Moses Lake, which operates the airport, also offers a Foreign Trade Zone that delivers financial benefits to some companies. Moses Lake straddles well-traveled Interstate 90, which provides quick access to Seattle and Spokane, and is close to a BNSF rail line.

Whatever the differences, the economic development folks in Grant County recognized the area’s strengths, built on them and successfully persuaded a number of new businesses to locate there. Smith brings that experience along with knowledge of the agriculture industry and a familiarity with Central Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

Smith says he already is working on a plan for his first 100 days on the job. We look forward to seeing how his fresh set of eyes envisions Yakima County’s future growth, and to see how he builds on the economic amenities that are already here.

Source: Yakima Herald

comments closed

Related News

May 15, 2022

Why the ‘4 + 1’ workweek is inevitable

Borderless Leadership

There’s been a lot of buzz about a 4-day workweek. But it will be the ‘4 + 1’ workweek that ultimately wins out: 4 days of “work” and 1 day of “learning.” Several forces are converging in a way that point toward the inevitability of this workplace future.

May 7, 2022

Managers, what are you doing about change exhaustion?

Borderless Leadership

How can leaders help their teams combat change exhaustion — or step out of its clutches? Too often, organizations simply encourage their employees to be resilient, placing the burden of finding ways to feel better solely on individuals. Leaders need to recognize that change exhaustion is not an individual issue, but a collective one that needs to be addressed at the team or organization level.

April 30, 2022

Research: How to power through boring tasks

Borderless Leadership

In this article, the author describes how a concept called tangential immersion can help anyone persevere in a boring task: Through a series of studies with more than 2,000 participants, she and her coauthors found that people often quit boring tasks prematurely because they don’t take up enough of their attention to keep them engaged.