POLK COUNTY — The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved an economic development grant helping support the Strategic Economic Development Corporation efforts in Polk County for the next three years.
The request was to provide $35,000 annually, a combination of yearly dues and $20,000 to partially pay for the Polk and Yamhill counties business retention and expansion position currently filled by AJ Foscoli.
Foscoli and Sedcor President Chad Freeman gave a presentation to the board on March 21.
“In the last three years, we’ve had an agreement with Polk County to support Sedcor for about $25,000 per year. We are looking to increase that level to $35,000, which will help us maintain the level of staffing we have,” said Chad Freeman, Sedcor’s president.
Foscoli has worked with Sedcor since 2014, when the Make it the Willamette Valley initiative began. That program was designed to help manufacturing companies in Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties expand their businesses and bring jobs to the region.
It was paid for through a federal grant, funding from Polk, Marion, and Yamhill counties, as well as PGE, PacificCorp.
Since being hired, Foscoli said he has been involved in six business expansion and recruitment projects; the annual Polk County job fair; providing support in developing career and technical education classes at Dallas High School; and Innovate Independence, a workforce development program.
Make it in Willamette Valley is ending, so Freeman requested the funding begin July 1.
“This position is critical, and this is something we need to do,” said Commissioner Craig Pope. “If it had failed and AJ wasn’t successful and we hadn’t seen the successes that now bring another county into the picture (Yamhill), we would be having a different conversation.”
Commission Jennifer Wheeler said she wanted Sedcor to make sure Polk County wasn’t overlooked, especially if Foscoli were to leave the organization.
“For these dollars, I want to know that they are staying here,” Wheeler said.
The motion to approve the grant passed unanimously.