SEDCOR, Independence bring ‘catalyst’ to Polk

SALEM — The Strategic Economic Development Corporation and city of Independence hired a Polk County business retention and expansion manager this month who will also serve as a “regional innovation catalyst.”

Alex Paraskevas will work with Shawn Irvine, Independence’s economic development director, on the Smart Rural Community project encouraging the development and growth of partnerships between technology and agriculture-based companies in Polk County, according to an announcement from SEDCOR.

“I am so excited for all the possibilities and the opportunities with this job,” Paraskevas said. “It’s a way to have a tangible impact and make difference in the communities SEDCOR serves.”

He will also work to support entrepreneurship and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education. As the business and retention manager for the county, Paraskevas will work with companies to create and retain jobs, said SEDCOR President Chad Freeman.

“We are excited to see where his energy, enthusiasm and knowledge takes us as we work directly with businesses to grow jobs for Polk County and the region,” Freeman said.

The position is paid for through a grant from the Ford Family Foundation and with support from the Polk County Board of Commissioners.

Paraskevas’ grew up in Salem and graduated from the University of Oregon in 2006. For 10 years, he worked at Willamette University in Salem. First was the assistant director of alumni communication and then the associate director of research and prospect management.

His parents are professors at Western Oregon University. Paraskevas attended elementary school in Monmouth.

He said working for SEDCOR in Polk County is an opportunity to work in a field that has been a long-time interest to him.

“Economic development is field which has captivated my thinking as it provides the chance to meld my personal interests with my professional aspirations,” Paraskevas said.

SEDCOR is a nonprofit association of businesses and community leaders working to create economic growth in Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties.

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